Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Safe Families Office?


The Safe Families Office (SFO) is operated by Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF) and Partnership Against Domestic Violence (PADV). SFO staff and volunteers provide legal and social work assistance for survivors of intimate partner violence, elder abuse, and child abuse, including:

  • Assisting clients with preparing Temporary Protective Order (TPO) paperwork
  • Accompanying clients through the TPO process
  • Conducting trauma-informed interviews and risk assessments
  • Identifying lethality indicators and barriers to safety
  • Educating clients on TPO procedures
  • Referring clients to victims’ assistance programs to learn more about their rights as victims of crime
  • Providing court advocate and/or legal representation for TPO-related court hearings
  • Referring clients to community resources, such as emergency housing/shelter, support groups, mental health, and other services




What is a Temporary Protective Order (TPO)?


A TPO is a civil (as opposed to criminal) order of protection, which generally restricts the ability of the person the TPO is filed against to contact and come near the person in need of protection. TPOs can provide additional relief, including but not limited to the following:

  • Evict an abuser from a shared residence
  • Damage reimbursement
  • Custody & visitation
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support
  • Prohibit abuser from purchasing or possession firearms




Where do I file for a TPO?


Start by visiting the Fulton County Family Division One Stop Office, located at: 136 Pryor Street, SW | 8th Floor, Ste. C-826 | Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 612-0505 | 8:30 am – 5:00 pm | Monday – Friday Survivors of intimate partner violence, elder abuse, and child abuse will be referred to the Safe Families Office for assistance: Safe Families Office | (404) 612-4324
9:00 am – 4:00 pm | Monday – Friday




What do I need to file a TPO?


  • A valid picture ID, if available
  • A current address for the person you’re filing the TPO against
Please Note: If the person you are filing against does not live in Fulton County, you may not be able to file in Fulton county. Call the Safe Families Office to discuss this before arriving at the courthouse.




Are there fees to file for a TPO?


There are no fees to file for a TPO in Fulton County and have it served in Fulton County by the Fulton County Sheriff. However, if service must occur in another county, fees may result from that county’s sheriff’s office. You may also pay a fee if you use a private process server to serve your TPO documents on the Respondent/Defendant.




What Time Should I Arrive at Court?/What is the TPO Process?


Step 1 | File for an Ex Parte TPO. Ex parte means you are asking the judge to hear from you without the person you are filing against being there. Step 2 | You’ll see a judge the same day you file for a TPO. The TPO process takes approximately four hours from beginning to end. Judges are available to see you three times per day: 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm. You must be at the courthouse approximately two hours prior to your desired hearing time. Step 3 | If your Ex Parte TPO is granted, you will walk out of the courthouse with a TPO that same day. Please note: Your Ex Parte TPO will not be in effect until it has been personally served, or given to, the person you filed against. Service must be done by a law enforcement officer or private process server. Step 4 | You will be given a court date to come back for a second hearing to request that your TPO be extended for up to 12 months. Both you and the person you filed against will be able to present evidence at this second hearing.




What if I can't get to the Safe Families Office?


If you feel you need a TPO, but you can’t get to the Safe Families Office, please contact us right away so we can get you the assistance you need. Our number is (404) 612-4324.




Definitions


Petitioner/Plaintiff: The person who files a lawsuit Respondent/Defendant: The person against whom a lawsuit was filed Ex Parte TPO: A protective order that is extremely temporary in nature, granted outside the presence of the person the TPO is filed against Ex Parte TPO Hearing: When a Petitioner/Plaintiff speaks to a judge outside the presence of the Respondent/Defendant 12-Month TPO: A protective order that is valid for 12 months from the date it is issued 12-Month TPO Hearing: A hearing, scheduled approximately two (2) weeks after the Ex Parte TPO Hearing, where Petitioner and Respondent both appear and Petitioner requests that his/her Ex Parte TPO be extended for up to 12 months Personal Service: When a qualified law enforcement officer or private process server hand delivers legal documents to a party to a lawsuit