If you or someone you know has ever been the victim of any type of domestic violence, it may be important for you to put legal protections in place so that your abuser is unable to come around you legally and hurt you again.
You may also have children that you are concerned about and rest assured, they will have certain protections put in place for them too. That’s where the personal protection order comes in. We’ll show you how restraining orders work and how you can file for one.
What is a Personal Protection Order?
A personal protection order (PPO) is a legal order that’s issued by the circuit court and can help prevent you and your family from being stalked, harassed, threatened, or hit by an abusive individual. That individual is not able to contact you directly, or indirectly.
It also protects you from that person coming into your home and also showing up at your work, or anywhere else.
They are not allowed to destroy property or disturb the peace. That individual may not be permitted to purchase a firearm and also puts a stop to them taking your children unless authorized to do so by the court.
When filing for a PPO, you are able to ask for supervised parenting time through the court if they still are able to see the children.
A person that decides to break a PPO can face jail time, a fine, or both. That individual will also be responsible for paying for any damage to the victim’s property during the encounter. A PPO does not work both ways, so the victim will never be in trouble for getting in contact with the abuser.
Who Can File for a PPO?
A victim of any type of domestic violence situation is able to file for a PPO against a boyfriend, spouse, partner, or any other family member that you’ve lived with, whether you have been threatened, or physically, emotionally, or sexually abused in the past.
If a minor has been abused, that child’s parent, guardian, or representative may file a PPO in their place.
Stalking is also a serious offense that’s considered to be harassment. A stalker maybe someone that you know or a complete stranger and you are able to file a PPO in that situation as well.
How Restraining Orders Work
- There is no cost for a victim to file for a PPO.
- It’s possible that you may spend up to half a day at the courthouse waiting for a judge to look over your request. Make sure that you don’t show pay a visit after 2 p.m.
- You will fill out the forms at the PPO Assistance Office.
- If you wish to keep your address unknown, simply do not include it when filling out the form. You can check with the Court Clerk to hand you a confidential address form.
- Then a Deputy Clerk will look over it and give you a judge and a case number. (At this point they will ask if you or the abuser have any other cases.)
- After that, you will meet with an attorney and he or she will go over the forms and ask you questions. They will then report to the judge.
- At this point, you will meet with the judge or the judge’s clerk, and they might ask you more questions. They may sign the order at this moment, deny it, or set a hearing date.
- You will then head to the Clerk’s Office, where they will give you copies of the order if the judge has signed it. This is when the information gets put into the computer system and the police will easily be able to look it up.
- If a hearing has been put in place, the Clerk will go over how the paperwork needs to be served.
- Once the PPO is signed by the judge, it’s legit. However, the court may have a difficult time when the abuser has not been served.
- There must also be a Proof of Service form filed in the court file. Without it, the court may have issues enforcing the PPO.
What Happens Now?
Until it expires or the court removes it, the abuser is not allowed to violate the PPO under any circumstances. You should never allow or agree to anything that the PPO restricts and should never encourage the abuser to violate it.
You also don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you feel obligated to let the abuser back into your home just because they have a court order to see the children. We recommend that you agree to meet within a public place or at the police station. You can also have a family member or friend drop off and pick up the children for you.
Can It Be Removed?
If for whatever reason, you believe that it is no longer necessary and wish for the PPO to be removed, you will have to return to the courthouse and request it. Only they can remove it. Then it is up to the court to decide whether to remove or change it, based on your request.
While personal protection orders do generally work, there are certain cases the abuser doesn’t care about the order and is not deterred from coming around their victims.
Even if you already have a PPO in place, it’s a good idea to have a safety plan ready at all times and that you are always aware of your surroundings.
Don’t hesitate to call the police if the perpetrator comes near you. Make sure that you also have the PPO on you and your children at all times, making the officer’s job that much easier.