A Petition for a Domestic Violence Protection Order can be filed by a person who is a victim of domestic violence or fears violence by a family or household member. This includes:
- Persons who are or were married.
- Persons who are or were domestic partners.
- Persons who have a child in common.
- Adults who do or did reside together.
- Persons 16 years or older who have or have had a dating relationship.
- Adults who are related by blood or marriage.
- Persons with a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including step-parents and step-children, and grandparents and grandchildren.
A Protection Order can protect you and your children in the following ways:
- The aggressor can be restraining from causing you (or your children) any physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault;
- The aggressor can be restrained from molesting, harassing, stalking, and cyberstalking you (or your children);
- the aggressor can be restrained from coming near you (or your children) and from having any contact whatsoever with you (or your children). This includes any contact whatsoever, whether that be in-person, through others, by phone, mail, carrier pigeon, etc. The only way that the aggressor is allowed to make contact is by having a third party mail you court documents or having a lawyer make contact.
- the aggressor can be restrained from going within a certain distance (usually 1000 feet) of your residence, workplace, school, and/or your children's school or daycare.
- the victim can be granted the exclusive right to temporarily reside in the family residence and the aggressor can be ordered to vacate immediately
- the victim can be granted exclusive possession of certain belongings, vehicles, bank accounts, and pets
- the victim can be granted temporary care, custody, or control of the children until the parties go to court and get a parenting plan;
- the aggressor can be ordered to surrender all firearms and dangerous weapons immediately to law enforcement.
A victim can pursue a Domestic Violence Protection Order before beginning a family law case such as a divorce or a petition for child custody. Some victims want protection in place prior to initiating a family case because he/she may fear retaliation from the other party. A victim can pursue an Emergency Domestic Violence Protection Order by filing a Petition with the Court. With this type of emergency procedure, the other party will not appear at the hearing and the victim can tell the Court why he/she needs the order. However, the victim does need to ensure that he/she meets the burden of proof to obtain the protection order. An experienced family law attorney can assist a victim with preparing their petition and supporting documents to ensure that the victim provides all the necessary information to the judge.
If the Emergency Petition is successful, then a temporary order for protection will be put in place. Law enforcement will serve the Opposing Party and the victim will have all the protections granted in the order. However, an Emergency Order is only in effect until the next hearing which is typically fourteen (14) days after the order was granted. At the "full hearing," both parties will appear before the Court and argue whether or not a Domestic Violence Protection Order should remain in effect for at least a year. When children are involved, typically, even if the Court includes the children in the order, the provisions with the children will be subject to a parenting plan.