A domestic violence civil protection order may be appropriate if a person believes they are the victim of domestic violence or fears imminent harm from a family member or person with whom they were in a dating relationship at the time. The party seeking protection is called the Petitioner. The Petitioner must file a Petition for a civil protection order with the court on behalf of themselves or on behalf of a child or other person over whom they have custody or guardianship.
Upon receiving the Petition, the court will hold an initial hearing. The Respondent, or person accused of domestic violence is generally not present at the initial hearing. Instead, the court decides whether a temporary, or ex parte order is appropriate based on the information in the Petition and the testimony of the Petitioner. In order for the court to grant a protection order at the initial hearing the court must find that:
- Petitioner is a family or household member of the Respondent or the natural parent of a child who they share with the respondent, and.
- The Respondent attempted to cause or recklessly caused the Petitioner to be in fear of imminent serious physical harm by the threat of force.
After the hearing, if the Petition is granted then an ex parte DVCPO will be served on the Respondent. This ex parte order will tell the Respondent that the Petition was filed, granted, and outline what things the Respondent is prohibited from doing until the final hearing. Some available remedies include prohibiting the Respondent from abusing or harassing the protected parties, giving the Petitioner possession of a residence, mandating counseling, or temporary orders regarding the parenting time of the parties’ children, and any other relief the court finds equitable and necessary to prevent domestic violence. The full list of available relief may be found in R.C. 3113.31.
If the Petition for the DV CPO is not granted at the initial hearing the Petitioner can still request to have a full hearing on their Petition. In that scenario there will be no orders restraining Respondent’s behavior until the full hearing is held and the court makes a final ruling on the Petition.
A full hearing on the Petition must be held after the Respondent is notified by service and within seven days of the filing of the Petition. This date of the hearing may be continued by mutual agreement of the parties or for other good cause shown. If the parties are represented by counsel the attorneys will want additional time to obtain full discovery and prepare their case. At the full hearing, the Respondent is allowed to be heard on the allegations. The Petitioner has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence – or more likely than not that domestic violence occurred. The court will then choose to grant or deny the Petition.
If the CPO is granted it can last up to five years. If the Respondent fails to comply with the restrictions set forth in the ex parte order or a full CPO there may be criminal repercussions. It is imperative that anyone subject to such an order not make any contact with the protected parties personally or have a third party do so unless exceptions are specifically delineated in the final order. An attorney can advise on how to best comply with the orders during the pendency of the case and following the issuance of a CPO.
A petition for or issuance of a domestic violence civil protection order does not bar any criminal remedies or charges that may take place as a result of domestic violence.
Due to the seriousness of the orders and allegations involved in a protection order case, both the Petitioner and Respondent may benefit from a consultation with an attorney.