Restraining orders are special types of cases that deal with one specific issue: keeping one person away from someone else. There are different types of restraining orders that, each designed for different types of situations or conflicts.
This type of restraining order, the “Elder Abuse Restraining Order” (“EARO”), is used when the individual seeking protection is 65 or older and has suffered abuse.
What it can do: restrain.
Just like the name says, an EARO is a specialized, personal order from the court that applies to only you and the individual who committed the abuse. It can be custom designed to your circumstances and restrains someone by limiting their ability to contact you, be around you or even communicate with you indirectly through o ther people.
What it can and can’t do.
A restraining order cannot put someone in jail or fine them for their behavior. It may be possible to have the other side pay your legal fees or compensate you for any financial damage they have caused. It can however, potentially order someone to do the following if the court grants your request:
- Not contact or go near you, your children, other relatives, or others who live with you;
- Stay away from your home, work, or other places you frequent;
- Move out of your house if you live together; and
- Turn in and not possess a firearm.
If someone’s behavior is serious enough however, it could be a crime and they could be charged with elder abuse in a criminal court. This is an entirely separate case, court and proceeding that is not related to what happens in the restraining order matter.
How to get one: show “abuse” occurred.
In order to get an EARO against someone, you must show to a judge that the other side has abused you in some way. Some examples of elder abuse include:
- Threatening to harm an elder if they don’t follow particular rules;
- Restricting an elder’s access to their own finances or resources;
- A caregiver deprives an elder of food or other goods necessary to avoid harm or suffering; or
- Physically controlling or manipulating an elder who cannot protect themselves.
These are not the only actions or behaviors that can qualify as elder abuse, but they are the types of allegations that may arise in these sorts of disputes.
Many things can be used to argue that abuse occurred, such as photographs, written statements, police reports, text messages, live witness testimony and sometimes videos. The more you have to back up your statements, the better your chances of getting an EARO.
Steps you can take if you suspect someone is a victim of elder abuse.
Many people aren’t sure how to react upon hearing that a loved one of theirs may be suffering or in trouble. But there are steps you can take if you have suspicions or concerns that something wrong, inappropriate or dangerous may be happening:
- Talk to loved ones: Elders may be hesitant or scared to bring up their abuse experience. Gently voice your concerns to provide them with the comfort they may need to confide in you.
- Take accusations seriously: Do not neglect to believe that your loved one is being abused. Take their complaint seriously and investigate the validity of their claim.
- Regular Communication: Keep in close contact with your loved one and check on them periodically. Elders who are socially isolated are more at risk for abuse.
- Use available resources: Call the Adult Protective Services (APS) office, long-term care nursing home ombudsman, or the police if you suspect Elder Abuse of your loved one.
APS Contact Info: 1-833-401-0832 and when prompted enter your 5-digit zip code to be connected to the Adult Protective Services in your county, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
If you are concerned that a loved one 60 years of age or older is suffering from elder abuse, our office is here to help you. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your family law matter and get justice for your loved one.
If you’re unsure whether your circumstances call for a restraining order, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out. This can be a difficult area of law to predict, and we are experienced in it.
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