Orders of Protection

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When is an Order of Protection Appropriate?


An order of protection is an emergency order that may be issued immediately to protect the peace where the defendant is alleged to have engaged in acts of domestic violence. Domestic violence covers a wide variety of conduct, not just physical assaults. The defendant generally is ordered to stay away from the plaintiff. Sometimes children and others are included in the order.

An order of protection may be issued without the defendant being present. The plaintiff fills out a complaint and tells the judge why a protective order is necessary. The order becomes effective when it is served on the defendant.

The defendant has a right to request a hearing on the order protection. The hearing will be set within a few days. The plaintiff must present evidence to persuade the judge that domestic violence has occurred or is likely to occur in the future. The defendant also may introduce evidence to show that the allegations are false.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge may keep the order in place, modify the order, or vacate the order. If the original order is kept in place, or if a modified order is entered, the defendant may be arrested if the order is violated.

An order of protection remains in effect for one year unless vacated sooner by the court. The plaintiff, however, may request that the order be renewed.

In certain limited circumstances, an order protection may cover the parties’ children. However, a petition for order protection is not intended as a means to litigate custody issues. It is for emergency safety issues.

If weapons are involved, the order of protection may require the defendant to turn in the weapons to the police. The order is a public record and, therefore, its existence may impact the Defendant’s right to purchase weapons. It also may appear in other background checks.

The procedure for obtaining orders of protection may be abused. Sometimes orders are obtained in an effort to obtain an unfair advantage in a lawsuit. As such, it may be important to the defendant to request a hearing. However, it is important to present substantial evidence at such a hearing because if the order is confirmed, the public record will look even worse for the defendant.

Important Resources
Child Support Guidelines:

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