LA Domestic Violence Survivors Shouldn’t Have To Pay Private Notaries To Get Restraining Orders

Helen Lewis - Contributing Writer [Big Easy Magazine] April 13th 2021


Currently, in Louisiana, domestic violence survivors who want to file a temporary restraining order against their abuser require a notarized affidavit.

Unfortunately, over 9 parishes in Louisiana do not provide notary services at the Clerk of Court, which means that survivors are forced to find and pay for a private notary.

This requirement not only adds an extra step to an already arduous and emotionally draining process but also imposes a financial barrier. No domestic abuse survivor should be forced to pay a fee just to keep themselves safe. Especially because low-income families are significantly more likely to have to contend with domestic violence.

Aimee Adatto Freeman’s bill HB55, which was filed for the 2021 session of the Louisiana House of Representatives, will challenge this requirement, removing this barrier for domestic violence survivors. The bill will replace the requirement of a notarized affidavit with a requirement that the petitioner must attest to the truthfulness of the petition. The bill states that the “Proposed law provides that the petition shall contain a written affirmation, rather than an affidavit, signed by the petitioner. Proposed law further explicitly provides the same for a complainant seeking protection from domestic abuse, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault.”

Freeman has argued that her bill should be passed not only for the sake of domestic violence survivors but also for the state of Louisiana. Victims having to bear the cost of a private notary puts Louisiana out of compliance with the Violence Against Women Act, which risks over $5 million in state funding.

Louisiana needs to address its domestic violence problem and this bill is a necessary step in the right direction. Louisiana currently ranks 5th in the nation for states with the highest rates of women murdered by men and has ranked in the top 5 almost every year for the last 21 years. To prevent domestic violence homicides, we must make temporary restraining orders more accessible to survivors.

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