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Legal Information: Tribal

Tribal Law

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March 12, 2010

What are the steps for getting a protection order?

The steps for getting a restraining order will vary from tribe to tribe. To find out more about the specific process for filing for a protection order on your reservation, please contact a domestic violence resource center or shelter in your community. You can also contact the court clerk at your local tribal court, if there is a court on your reservation.

To find contact info for the tribal court in your area, check out the Tribal Court Directory. This Directory provides links and contact information to many tribal courts and justices systems from across the nation.

Note: The Oklahoma Indian Legal Services has a section on their website with general information about how to file for Protection Orders in Oklahoma Indian Country. That information can be found at http://thorpe.ou.edu/OILS/protect.html.

Also, WomensLaw.org has step-by-step instructions for each state on how to file for protection orders. You might want to check the "Restraining Orders" page for the state in which your tribal nation is located to familiarize yourself with that state's process, in case you have to file for a protection order there as well. The process for filing for a protection order in your tribal court might be similar, so reading through this page might give you a sense of what to expect in tribal court as well.

Where can I file for a protection order?

You may file for a protection order in the tribal court, Court of Indian Offenses (CFR Court), or state court, depending on what court system is in place on your reservation.

If you do not live in Indian Country or if your tribe does not have a tribal court or Court of Indian Offenses, you can go to the state court nearest you and ask the court clerk how you can file for a protection order. You will find a list of courthouse contact information on this website on the "Courthouse Locations" page for each state.

If I have to go to a hearing, what can I do beforehand to prepare my case?

In some states and tribes, you have to have a hearing before the judge decides whether or not to issue a protection order against your abuser. Usually both you and your abuser will have a chance to be present, and you will each be given a chance to tell your side of the story.

If you are having a court hearing, there are some things you can do before your hearing date to be prepared.  Please visit the page on this website, Preparing your Case.

Who gets a copy of the order?

You will get a copy of the protection order, as will you abuser and law enforcement officials in your area. However, you may want to follow up with your local police and sheriff's department to make sure they have a copy of your order on file. If they do not, make sure you send a copy to them.

It is very important that you keep this order with you at all times. Make sure that every place listed on the protection order also has a copy. This may include your child's school, your place of employment, or any place else listed on the order. You are responsible for making the copies and giving them to the necessary people and places.