How to File a Restraining Order in Vermont

In Vermont, you can apply for a “sexual assault or stalking protective order,” which is what is commonly referred to as a “Restraining Order.” The sexual assault or stalking protective order is an order from the court which is used to stop violent, harassing and threatening behavior from a non-family or household member. First, determine if this order is right for you. If it is, follow our tips for filing a sexual assault or stalking protective order.

Do you Qualify for a Sexual Assault or Stalking Protective Order?

lawyer typing at desk next to gavil
lawyer typing at desk next to gavil

Any person who is NOT a family or household member may seek relief from abuse by another non-family or household member on behalf of himself or herself or his or her children by filing a complaint with the court in the Vermont county that the abuse occurred. 12 V.S.A. § 5133

Who qualifies for a Stalking Protective Order?

  • Are you NOT a “family” or “household member”? 
    • NOT A family member
    • NOT A current or former sexual parter
    • NOT Someone you date or used to date
    • NOT Someone who lives with you or used to live with you
  • Has this person done one of the following at least two times? 12 V.S.A. § 5131(1)(A)
    • Monitored
    • Surveilled
    • Threatened
    • Made threats about you
    • Interfered with your property
  • The stalker must know or should know that their actions would reasonably cause you to:
    • Fear for your safety or your family member’s safety; or
    • Suffer substantial emotional harm shown by:
      • Your fear of unlawful sexual conduct, unlawful restraint, bodily injury, or death; or
      • Significant changes that you have made in your actions or routines, including:
        • Moving from your home;
        • Changing your daily routes to and from work even though it causes a disruption in your life;
        • Changing your job or your work schedule; or
        • Losing a job or losing time from work. 12 V.S.A. § 5131(6)


If you answered yes to each of these questions, you likely qualify for a Stalking Protective Order and should contact Burke Law to speak with an attorney who can assist you in filing for an Order with the court in the county where the abuse occurred.

Who qualifies for a Sexual Assault Protective Order?

  • Are you NOT a “family” or “household member”? 
    • NOT A family member
    • NOT A current or former sexual parter
    • NOT Someone you date or used to date
    • NOT Someone who lives with you or used to live with you
  • Has the non-family or household member committed one of the following crimes against you* 13 V.S.A. § 5131(5) :

* NOTE: the non-family or household member who committed the crimes against you does NOT have to be arrested for the crime and it does NOT have to be reported to the police for you to file for this protective order. However, their actions must match the description of one of the crimes above.

If you answered yes to each of these questions, you likely qualify for a Sexual Assault Protective Order and should contact Burke Law to speak with an attorney who can assist you in filing for an Order with the court in the county where the abuse occurred.

If the person who committed crimes against you is a family or household member, you can still file a Relief from Abuse Order.

I Qualify for a Stalking Protective Order or Sexual Assault Protective Order - Now What?

cardboard sign that says "now what?"
cardboard sign that says "now what?"

1. Filing for a Stalking Protective Order or Sexual Assault Protective Order - Paperwork!

The person who is requesting a Protective Order is known as the plaintiff. The person against whom the order is issued is known as the defendant. 

If you qualify, below are the 4 Steps for filing for a protective order:

  1. Fill out a Complaint for Order Against Stalking or a Complaint for Order Against Sexual Assault
  2. Fill out an Affidavit in Support of the Complaint.
  3. Fill out a Protection Order service information, which the police will use to locate and identify the Defendant in order to serve him/her with the Protective Order.
  4. File all 3 of these documents with the civil division of the superior court in the Vermont county where the abuse occurred. You can find a court near you here. See the Filing Procedures web page for motion information about filing.

While the process of filing for and obtaining a Protective Order can be done without representation, you may want to get a lawyer to represent you in the process. Call or email Burke Law to assist you with this process!

2. Temporary RFA

Once you have filed the request for a protective order paperwork, a judge will review your complaint and affidavit. The judge will then decide whether to:

  1. Dismiss the petition OR
    1. If the Judge dismisses the petition, that means that the judge does not believe that the facts alleged in the petition meet the criteria for a sexual assault or stalking order. 
  2. Issue a “temporary order.”
    1. A “temporary order” is an order put in place temporarily with conditions on the defendant until a hearing can take place. After a hearing occurs, the judge decides whether or not to issue a final order. The hearing will take place within 14 days of filing your complaint.

3. The Hearing

If the judge grants you a temporary protective order, you will be given a court date for a hearing on your petition. The hearing will be in front of a judge who will decide whether or not to grant you a final protective order.

At the hearing, you will have the chance to testify in court and present evidence and witnesses to prove the abuse and harassment that occured. The Defendant, if present, will also be permitted to present evidence and testify at the hearing. 



However, you may want to get an attorney to represent you at this hearing, especially if you think the Defendant will have one. Call or email Burke Law to speak with an attorney further about this process and your rights.

What Relief Can I Get?

gavil on wooden desk next to legal documents
gavil on wooden desk next to legal documents

If an order against stalking or sexual assault is issued, the defendant may be forbidden to contact you in anyway, by email, text, mail, telephone, social media, etc.

If the defendant does contact you in violation of the order, they could be arrested. The police and the prosecutor decide whether to take action if this happens.


Contact us today if you have any questions or want to discuss your options.

lawyer typing at desk next to gavil

How to File a Restraining Order in Vermont

In Vermont, you can apply for a “sexual assault or stalking protective order,” which is what is commonly referred to as a “Restraining Order.” The sexual assault or stalking protective order is an order from

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