Family Violence

The state of Georgia defines domestic violence as an act of "family violence." The law protects against physical, sexual, and emotional abuse among family members. You don't have to be married to someone in order to be a victim of domestic violence in Georgia.

Who is Protected?

Georgia’s Family Violence Act is a law designed to protect individuals who are abused by present or past spouses, parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household. It can also be used to get temporary custody, financial support, and other assistance for the abused person. Additionally, victims that do not qualify under Georgia’s Family Violence Act may seek protection pursuant to Georgia’s stalking laws.

Most of the laws relevant to domestic violence are based on state law. This includes restraining or protection orders, divorce, custody, crimes, and more.

Protective Orders

Domestic violence charges are treated very seriously in Georgia. The court can issue a Family Law Protective Order. This order prohibits the offender from having contact with the victim for a specified period of time. If a person is found to violate a restraining or protective order, he or she could be jailed and charged with a separate crime, including aggravated stalking.

A Family Violence Protection Order can:

  • Order an abuser to leave the victim alone;
  • Give the victim possession of the house and force the abuser to leave (you can ask the court to have the sheriff send someone home with you to enforce this part of the order);
  • Order assistance to help a victim get his or her personal property;
  • Make the abuser provide alternate housing for a spouse, former spouse, or parent and children;
  • Give the victim temporary custody of shared children and set temporary visitation rights;
  • Award temporary child support and/or spousal support from the abuser;
  • Order the abuser to go to counseling;
  • Award costs and attorney's fees to either party;
  • Lead the abuser's arrest if he or she breaks the order.

Here are the main provisions of the Georgia's Domestic Violence Laws.

  • Code Sections: The Family Violence Act: O.C.G.A. §19-13-1 et seq., Protective Orders: §19-13-2 et. seq., Stalking Laws: §16-5-90 et seq.
  • Other Names: Family Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, and Teen Dating Violence
  • What is Prohibited? Committing any felony, battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint and criminal trespass.
  • What is Not Prohibited? Does not include "reasonable" discipline administered by a parent to a child in the form of corporal punishment, restraint, or detention.
  • Relationship Requirement: Current or former spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or persons currently or formerly living in the same household.
  • Penalties: Felony or misdemeanor (depending on the crime): probation, jail time, anger management classes, community service, and fines. Factors, such as prior offenses or history of domestic violence, help determine the severity of the punishment. Sentence may also include a Family Violence Protective Order (restraining order).
  • Types of Protective Orders Available: Family Violence Protective Orders
  • Penalty for Violation of Protective Orders: Contempt of Court and/or a misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail and a $1000 fine. Can also be considered "stalking" or "aggravated stalking" and can be sentenced as either a misdemeanor or a felony.


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