You have no way to protect yourself from otherwise lawful contact if the parent who is violent has done nothing to you. You can talk to a domestic violence shelter advocate about some practical steps you can take to prevent a confrontation.
A grandparent who receives threats — or worse — from a parent of the grandchildren should always report the incident to the police. It is also important to create a logical safety plan if finding a safe place becomes urgent. Local domestic violence shelter organizations can be very helpful for this purpose.
A parent who has been the victim of violence by the other parent may be able to get a Family Abuse Prevention Act (FAPA) restraining order from the court. The FAPA order will designate which parent will be responsible for the children. You should have a copy of the responsible parent’s order and tell the police if the other parent violates the order with regard to contact or time with the children. A FAPA order requires the violent parent to stay away from the spouse or other adult family-member victim. A FAPA order can force the violent person to move out of the family home. They can be arrested for violating the order.
You cannot get a FAPA order unless you were living in the same place with the parent who was violent or were seriously threatened with violence. A person who is at least 65 years old, or who has a disability, is likely eligible for a similar kind of restraining order for elderly or disabled persons. Both FAPA and elder-abuse protection orders are available at no charge to people who meet the requirements of the protection laws. Forms are available at the offices of court clerks, online on the state court website and from domestic violence shelters.
You also may be eligible for a stalking protection order depending on the behavior of the violent parent. There is no age limit or family-relationship requirement for stalking orders. Stalking orders can require someone to stay away from you even if there has been no violence. You simply have to show the person’s repeated behavior toward you has been intentionally threatening and frightening (stalking). Examples of stalking behavior include keeping watch outside a person’s home or workplace, placing harassing or hang-up phone calls, following a person, sending frightening letters, etc. There is no cost to obtain this kind of order.
People who violate restraining or stalking orders can be arrested immediately and, in some instances, charged with a new crime. It’s a good idea to talk to a domestic violence advocate or an attorney about how to get a stalking order.