Domestic violence is a serious problem and victims can get an order of protection from a court to prevent an abuser from coming near them. However, many people misunderstand what actions can result in an order of protection and the various levels of protection that exist. Courts recognize that circumstances can vary greatly, especially during an emotional time while a divorce is pending. As a result, all orders aren’t the same and, depending on what allegedly occurred and how often, a court may set different limits on a defendant’s activities.
Generally, these are the types of orders that may be granted:
“Stay away” order of protection
In clear-cut cases of abuse, such as where a victim is hit, strangled, or chased with a weapon or there have been attempts to do so, the defendant will be prohibited from getting within 100 feet of the individual.
“No contact” order of protection
If there have been multiple instances of abuse and harassment, the court may order that the defendant be restricted from contacting or using a third party to contact the victim. This is often done in conjunction with the stay-away order. However, it is important to note that if the order does not encompass the couple’s children, there may be a carve-out that allows the defendant to communicate in writing regarding parenting time. In this situation, a third party would likely have to pick up and drop off the children or the exchange would have to take place at a police station or other public place to avoid the defendant violating the order of protection.
“No harass” or “refrain from” orders of protection
These prohibit a defendant from engaging in behavior that could result in a stay-away or no-contact order if violated. Typically, the orders are granted where there has been an isolated incident of abuse that was not serious or the defendant, at some time in the more distant past, engaged in disorderly conduct toward the victim or recklessly endangered the victim.
Many spouses have fights before or during their divorce which may get physical. While a slap or throwing a drink in the other person’s face does constitute abuse, by itself, it may not warrant a stay away order of protection. The court will look at the totality of the circumstances, so carefully document everything that occurs to substantiate your request for an order of protection.
No matter which side you are on, if there are allegations of domestic violence in your relationship, it is essential to get good legal advice to which we can help.
If you are considering divorce, contact us for a consultation.