How Does the Order of Protection Docket Work in Nashville, Tennessee?

There are two separate dockets that handle Order of Protection cases in Nashville. First, married couples or couples with children will appear in the Circuit Court in the historic main courthouse in downtown Nashville. All other Order of Protection cases are heard in the General Sessions Court in the A.A. Birch Building.

Here is a brief summary of how the process works:

  1. Usually a person applies for an Order of Protection before a magistrate.
  2. After reviewing the sworn Petition for the Order of Protection, the magistrate will in all probability issue an ex parte Order of Protection, a temporary Order that will prohibit the respondent from contacting the complaining party. It is a valid court order. A violation of the ex parte Order of Protection can be punished as a Contempt of Court and carries a jail sentence of up to 10 days for each violation.
  3. The ex parte Order will also set the hearing date within 15 days of the Order being issued.
  4. At the hearing, the petitioner has the burden of proof, which is determined by the preponderance of evidence standard. The respondent or his/her attorney is allowed to cross-examine the petitioner and submit evidence to rebut the petitioner's allegations.
  5. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court will either grant the Order of Protection, or it will be dismissed, based upon the testimony presented.

An Order of Protection has serious ramifications. It may take away your right to bear arms, award custody of children to another party or Department of Children's Services, affect child support, alimony and/or order you out of your house. The granting of an Order of Protection could impact your ability to secure employment or rent an apartment. It is not to be taken lightly. A qualified attorney should be consulted to explore defenses and options.