An Order for Protection (aka OFP) is a court ordered restraint that prevents an alleged domestic abuser from contacting his alleged victim. It is used in instances of domestic abuse, domestic violence or domestic assault. Unlike harassment restraining orders, OFPs are used against family members or against those with which you have a special relationship. Orders for Protection are normally needed in the event of a child abuse or spousal abuse case. In most instances there will be a criminal investigation as well and violating an Order for Protection is considered a crime. There are different types of OFP available including:
- An exclusionary protection order – this forces an abuser to leave the victims house immediately but temporarily. What this means is that if you and your spouse live together and there is an OFP in place, your spouse will not be able to live there anymore.
- A non exclusionary protection order – this allows both parties to live together as long as the abuser does not cause harm or make threats to the victim.
Orders for Protection are available in the following instances:
- If the alleged victim and the alleged abuser are blood relatives (for example, cousins, brothers, parents, siblings, etc)
- If the alleged victim and the alleged abuser have a child together
- If the alleged victim and the alleged abuser were involved in an intimate relationship or have lived together
- If the alleged victim and the alleged abuser are married or were married
Filing Orders for Protection in Minnesota
There are many instances where you may feel threatened or concerned about your safety. You may consider filing an Order for Protection if:
- You receive any threats of physical harm to yourself or your children
- You have been physically harmed
- You have witnessed your child being physically harmed
- You suspect your child of being physically harmed or your child has told he has been physically harmed
- There is any instance of inappropriate sexual contact involving minors
- There is any instance of forced sexual contact in adults
Keep in mind that when it comes to something as serious as filing an Order for Protection, every case is looked at on an individual basis. Having the experience of a skilled Minnesota divorce lawyer can ensure that you are protected and that this will not happen again. Living life in fear is no way to live, especially when there are alternatives. An Order for Protection can stop any violence or threats from happening and allow you to move on. We can help you determine other options, such as possible divorce or legal separation. We can also provide you with information on child custody, child support and alimony. Our firm is dedicated to working with all clients who seek to protect themselves and their children from exposure to domestic abuse, and we will work hard to see that your order of protection goes as smoothly and successfully as possible.
Hearing on an Order for Protection
If a member of your family or household (i.e. spouse, former spouse, parents, children, person related by blood, person you are presently living with, person you lived within the past, parent of your child, father of your unborn child, or person that you are romantically involved with) serves you with an OFP (order for protection), you might be able to ask for an extension for the hearing.
Continuance for Legal Counsel & Time to Prepare
Technically, you can be personally served with an OFP within as little as twelve hours before a hearing. You must appear at the hearing. However, if you review the paperwork for the OFP, you will notice that the Court instructs you to appear at the hearing “fully prepared” to have a trial on the matter. This means that you should bring witnesses, evidence, and be prepared to testify at the hearing. Twelve hours before a hearing is not a lot of time to prepare everything you need. Under Minnesota Statutes, you have the ability to request an extension in order to prepare for the hearing.
Service Less than 5 Days Before Hearing
Minnesota Statute §518B.01 subdivision 5 states: “Personal service of the ex parte order may be made upon the respondent at any time up to 12 hours prior to the time set for the hearing, provided that the respondent at the hearing may request a continuance of up to five days if served fewer than five days prior to the hearing which continuance shall be granted unless there are compelling reasons not to.” While the Court will typically allow a short continuance in order for the person responding to the OFP to retain an attorney, if the person is served less than five days before the hearing, then the Respondent can request a continuance of up to five additional days. If the hearing is extended, then the OFP will be extended as well. This means that if the OFP prevents you from living at home or having contact with your kids, these terms won’t continue until the judge makes a decision on the OFP.
Minnesota Divorce Lawyer
If you are concerned about the safety and well being of yourself or your child, then it is imperative that you speak to a Minnesota divorce attorney about your options for an Order for Protection. You don’t have to live in fear and with our assistance, you can successfully file an OFP and walk away from the past pain. Contact a Minnesota divorce attorney for a free consultation today.