Civil Protection Orders (CPO) are intended to help protect domestic violence victims and hold abusers accountable for their actions. Under Ohio law, domestic violence victims (“petitioner”) to file a petition against their abuser (“respondent”)to ask the court for relief that may decrease the violence occurring within the family.
Only the court in each county that hears domestic relations matters may issue domestic violence CPOs. A petitioner must provide evidence to the court that he/she or a family or household member is in immediate and present danger of domestic violence. For example, a civil protection order may be considered where a family or household member experiences recent physical abuse, threats to harm or kill or stalking behavior.
A petitioner must fill out forms and complete a sworn statement describing the violence. She/he must appear in court with the forms which will be reviewed by a magistrate to decide if an “ex parte” order should be granted. “Ex parte” means the respondent/abuser is not in court for the hearing. If granted, the petitioner will get a temporary protection order after this first hearing.
There is another hearing within 7 or 10 court days. At this next hearing, the respondent can be present to dispute what the petitioner says or write in his or her statement. The protection order is either granted or denied. Sometimes the parties may agree to the terms of the CPO. If not, there will be a hearing before the magistrate to decide if the petitioner has presented enough evidence to obtain a CPO. If granted, the CPO can stay in place for up to 5 years. It can also be renewed, modified or terminated by further court hearing.
If granted, the court shall order that the abuser is stopped from abusing, threatening, or stalking the petitioner and other family or household members. The court may also stop an abuser from hurting the family pet. The court can also prohibit the abuser from having contact with any family or household member or going to the home, school, or place of employment. The court may evict the abuser and grant immediate possession of the home to the victim. The court may also order support, custody, visitation, or use of property which may include the car.
A CPO may be obtained with or without an attorney. A victim may be accompanied by a victim advocate during all stages of the proceedings. Call the hotline phone numbers listed in this newsletter to ask about availability of DV advocates. Legal Aid helps in some domestic violence CPO cases. Call Legal Aid at 1-888-817-3777 to apply for help.
This article was written by Legal Aid Senior Attorney Alexandria Ruden and appeared in The Alert: Volume 31, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!