A protection order is a legal document to protect you and your loved ones from stalking and abuse. When a person suffers from abuse or is the subject of stalking, that person is entitled to protection under Missouri law. Requesting a protection order is one way to protect yourself from further mistreatment.
Obtaining a protection order is important to protect yourself and the ones you love, but the process can be complicated. With the assistance of an experienced Missouri family lawyer, you can get the protection you need.
What is a Protection Order?
A protection order is a remedy in civil law to prevent harassing and abusive behavior. The order is from a judge who orders the abuser to stop harassing or stalking you, and it sets forth specific limits on the abuser's conduct. There are two types of protection orders.
Ex Parte Order of Protection
An ex parte order of protection is an emergency order issued by a court to protect the abuse victim, but it is temporary. The order is meant to grant emergency protections until a court hearing can be held, which must occur within 15 days or less of the issuance of the ex parte order of protection.
For an ex parte order to be granted, there must be "good cause" such as abuse, stalking, or harassment. If it is granted, it will remain in effect until a full hearing is held or until the 15 days has expired. If the order is denied, a full protection order hearing can still be held.
Full Order of Protection
A full order of protection requires a hearing before a judge or magistrate. At that hearing, the parties on both sides get to tell their side of the story. If a court finds that the person requesting the order (the "petitioner") is the subject of abusive or harassing behavior, the judge or magistrate will issue a full protective order. This kind of protection order is good between 180 days up to one year.
An order of protection for stalking can be issued against any person who has engaged in stalking you. An order of protection based on abuse can only be entered against a family or household member.
Who Can File for a Protection Order?
A person who is 17 years of age or older may file a protection order. For an order based on abuse, a person who may file a protection order must be:
- A spouse or former spouse,
- Relative by blood or marriage,
- Current or former live-in girlfriend or boyfriend,
- Have a child together, or
- Had or have a continuing social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
If the protection order is for stalking, the victim of the stalking may file for the order of protection.
What the Protection Order Covers
Protection orders can be tailored to fit the situation but generally they prevent contact between you and the abuser or stalker. It can
- Create a certain distance the abuser must remain away from you,
- Prohibit or limit contact between you and the abuser, and
- Prohibit the abuser from entering your home or other specific location.
Protection Orders in Family Law Cases
Protection orders are often an important part of the family law process and may be a part of a divorce or child custody dispute. Many divorces are caused by spousal or child abuse, and a protection order may be necessary during your divorce proceedings to keep you or your children safe.
All too often the heated nature of divorce and other family law matters results in threats, abuse, and stalking. If this is the case, your family law attorney can file the appropriate documents to protect you and your children from harm.
What if the Protection Order is Violated?
Violation of a protection order is taken very seriously and is a criminal offense. A first-time violation of a protection order is a Class A misdemeanor. A second-time violation of a protection order within a five year period is charged as a Class D felony, and prison time may be a possible punishment for the violation.
If the violation was a separate and distinct crime (i.e., domestic violence) the offender may also be charged with that offense. Violations of protection orders may also affect the judge's determinations in matters related to your divorce, child custody arrangements, and visitation.
Consult a Missouri Divorce Attorney
A protection order is an important way you can protect yourself and the ones you love. With the help of an experienced Missouri family lawwerys, your safety can be protected through a protection order.
Contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm today at (816) 331-9968 for a consultation.