Over 10 million men and women in the United States are physically abused by an intimate partner each year. To make matters worse, 1 in 15 children is exposed to intimate partner violence each year. An order of protection, also known as a restraining order, is a civil judgment designed to protect victims from further harm.
A protection order may restrict someone from the following:
- Coming within a specified distance of the protected person’s home, workplace, or vehicle
- Coming within a specified distance of the protected person’s children or their school
- Contacting the protected person
- Owning or possessing a firearm or ammunition
In some cases, an order of protection may influence child custody proceedings, property division, child support, and spousal support.
Who Qualifies for an Order of Protection?
In order to file for an order of protection, the petitioner and respondent must have one of these relationships:
- Current or former spouses
- Relation by marriage, blood, or adoption
- An intimate relationship (not necessarily sexual)
- Having a child together
The petitioner must also have a suitable reason for requesting protection. Abuse, violence, or neglect of a child are common reasons one might file for an order of protection. However, a protection order may also be requested to prevent one party from performing nonviolent actions, such as destroying assets or intentionally accumulating debt.
How to File for an Order of Protection
When a party files for an order of protection, a temporary restraining order is put in place and a hearing date is set. At the hearing, the restrained party has the choice to either agree to the order or contest it in front of a judge.
If the protection order is granted, it may stay in place for a year or more. When the order of protection is due to expire, the protected person has the option of filing to extend the order if he or she still feels threatened.
Consequences for Violating an Order of Protection
Although an order of protection is issued in the civil court system, violating it is a crime. For nonemergency violations, the petitioner must file a petition to the family court. The court may then find the violator in contempt. This is punishable by up to six months in jail. In emergency violations, the police may arrest the violator.
How to Lift an Order of Protection
An order of protection will remain in place until it expires or the court changes it. Sometimes, the order might restrict the restrained party from conducting business or seeing children. In these cases, the restrained party may wish to file a motion to lift the order.
It is the restrained party’s responsibility to prove to the judge that there is no longer a need for the restrictions put in place by the order. In the event that the order is to prevent violence or abuse, the restrained party may need to demonstrate that he or she has:
- Completed anger management classes or behavioral modification therapy
- Begun medication for mental health conditions
- Moved a sufficient distance away to no longer pose a threat to the protected party
If the order of protection’s intent was to prevent the destruction of property, the liquidation of assets, or the accumulation of debt, the restrained party may need to provide proof that assets have been completely divided or that the debt is justified.
Get Legal Assistance
If you need to file for an order of protection, or if you wish to challenge or modify an existing protective order, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced family law attorneys at Winkler Kurtz, LLP. Our clients’ safety is our top priority, and we can help you get the protection you need. Contact us today or call (631) 928-8000 to schedule a complimentary consultation.