Many of my divorce or family law clients have questions regarding obtaining an Order of Protection in their case.  Because each case is unique, you should discuss an Order of Protection with an attorney before proceeding.


Orders of Protection are intended to protect victims of domestic violence.  To obtain an order of protection, the Court must find that domestic violence has or is likely to occur.  Domestic violence includes more than just physical violence, such as verbal abuse, threatening behavior, and intimidation.


Because of the very nature of a divorce, with escalated conflict and volatile emotions on both sides, many family law cases also involve issues of an Order of Protection.  While an Order of Protection can be helpful in some cases, they are often overused and misused.  Even in cases where an Order of Protection is justified, there may be reasons to proceed without the Order of Protection.  Additionally, there are other options available through temporary orders in the underlying family law matter, which are much more flexible and can be specifically tailored to fit your case much easier than an Order of Protection.


Advantages to obtaining an Order of Protection include:  obtaining a prompt order giving one party exclusive use of a house; obtaining a prompt order precluding one parent from having parenting time (visitation) with a child; and precluding one party from visiting the other party’s work, school, or other frequented locations. 


Disadvantages to obtaining an Order of Protection include:  escalated attorney’s fees and court time; escalated emotions leading to retaliatory behavior in the family law matter; and requirement of third party involvement to exchange children, personal items, and information.  Finally, putting it bluntly, an Order of Protection is just a piece of paper, and it will not stop a bullet.  Even with an Order of Protection you must take safety precautions.


If you are considering obtaining an Order of Protection, you should speak with a family law attorney prior to proceeding.  If you spouse or significant other has obtained an Order of Protection, you legally have the option to request one hearing to challenge the Order of Protection.  Because you are only able to challenge an Order of Protection one time, you should consult with an attorney and involve your attorney in your case.


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