• Legal Rights

    Relief from Abuse Orders -
    A Relief from Abuse Order is a civil order issued in Family Court that provides protection from an abusive family or household member. It is designed to stop physically violent, harassing and threatening behavior. In order to qualify for a Relief from Abuse Order(RAO), the court must determine that physical abuse or the threat of physical abuse occurred and that there is danger of further abuse.

    What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Vermont?
    Domestic abuse means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

    • attempting to cause or causing physical harm
    • placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm
    • abuse to children
    • stalking
    • sexual assault

    How can a Relief from Abuse Order(RAO) protect me?
    An RAO can:

    • Order the abuser to stay away from, stop abusing and stop contacting you and/or your children;
    • Order the abuser to not mistreat or kill any animal (pet) owned or possessed by you or your abuser;
    • If the abuser forced you and/or your children out of the home and you have no where to go, the judge can order the defendant to immediately leave the home and order that you have sole possession of the home;
    • Grant you temporary custody of your children if the judge believes that there is an immediate danger of physical or emotional harm to the children.
    • Order the abuser to pay you spousal and/or child support for up to three months;
    • Order your abuser to hand over any firearms in his possession to the authorities and forbid him from buying firearms for the length of the order;
    • Decide the possession, care and control of any animal owned or kept by you or the abuser
    • Anything else you need to keep you and/or your children safe.

    **Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

    IMPORTANT: Relief from Abuse orders are not the right answer for every situation. Sometimes pursuing an order can escalate the violence and danger you are experiencing. You are the one who knows best how your abuser will react to an order.
    Please consider talking with an advocate at the Women’s Freedom Center before you apply for an order and/or go to:

    Women’s Law – Vermont for more information

    Other Legal Assistance:
    Vermont Legal Rights of Women
    Vermont Legal Aid
    Women’s Law
    National Women’s Law Center