A temporary restraining order (TRO) is a court order that is sometimes seen in family situations whenever there are allegations of domestic violence. TROs are generally filed quickly — and the decision to grant one is usually done without giving the accused a hearing.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t fight back. The purpose of the TRO is to provide injunctive relief to the alleged victim, so it will usually prohibit you from talking to the victim in person, contacting the victim online, using a third-party to send messages to the victim or going to the victim’s home. You’ll generally be given a hearing date — which could be your only opportunity to make the judge understand the situation before the order becomes permanent.

So what should you consider doing next? Keep these ideas in mind:

  1. You need to clearly understand the order. Read the entire thing carefully and follow the rules to the letter. It won’t impress the judge well if you don’t show deference to the court’s orders.
  2. Do not make any attempt to contact the alleged victim. Some people make the mistake of trying to plead their case directly to the alleged victim and ask them to see reason — but that’s a great way to end up facing criminal charges. Violating the TRO can land you in jail, so don’t make that mistake.
  3. Gather your evidence. You may be able to use witnesses, phone records, police reports and more to prove that you aren’t guilty of harassing or abusing the victim. Pull together anything you think may be important to show the judge.
  4. Respond to the allegations. Ignoring them — even if they are false — could result in a default judgment against you.

As difficult as your situation is now, there are ways out. It’s often wisest to have experienced representation by your side when you’re facing the potential of a restraining order.