The Savannah Chatham Family Violence Council

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Civil proceedings are court actions that are not criminal, such as divorce, child custody, TPOs, and TROs.  Superior Court is the only court in which these cases can be heard.




SAFE Shelter Outreach victim advocates can assist with filing Temporary Protective Orders in Superior Court, in cases in which there has been violence between two people who were at some point in a romantic relationship.  Violence must have occurred within the prior 30 days, and the victim must be truly fearful that the abuser will seriously harm her again.   There is no charge for TPOs for domestic violence victims. 

TPOs can:

    • Order the abuser to stay away from the victim and her children;
    • Order the abuser out of the house if he and the victim live together, and if married, can give the victim temporary possession of the marital home.
    • Give the victim custody of minor children for up to 12 months.

If the abuser violates a TPO, he can be charged with aggravated stalking.  Outreach advocates can also assist with filing Stalking Orders in Superior Court, which are similar to TPOs, but do not require that violence has occurred.

Outreach advocates are also available to accompany victims to any court proceeding.  Call SAFE Shelter Outreach at 651-2004 for more information.




A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) must be prepared by an attorney.  These Superior Court orders can be made permanent and can be included in divorce proceedings.




The only civil action that does not need to be filed in Superior Court is the good behavior warrant (or “peace bond”), which is issued by Magistrate’s Court.

This warrant works as a “stay away” order for both parties.  No attorney is needed and there is a filing fee.  To take out a good behavior warrant, you must appear in person at the Magistrate’s Court office (in the county courthouse on Montgomery Street) and explain what happened that requires such an order.  A good behavior warrant lasts for 60 days and does not take effect until the defendant is served.  This warrant can not be taken out against persons living in the same house or married to each other.

The subject of the warrant can choose to waive the hearing, which means s/he does not have to appear in court and the warrant is in effect.   If the subject requests a hearing, the judge listens to both parties and decides whether the warrant will be granted.  If granted, the warrant applies to both parties.  If it is violated, you should notify Magistrate’s Court immediately.  A new court date will be scheduled so the judge may hear the violation. 

Contact Magistrate’s Court if your problem persists or if you want the warrant to be in effect for more than 60 days.  Call at least two weeks prior to the expiration date.

© 2009 The Savannah Chatham Family Violence Council                                                                       Web Site by Studio Martin

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