Understanding Domestic Violence And Civil Protection Orders
The court cannot really know what goes on inside people’s homes, but the law provides remedies for unacceptable behavior. One of the most important of these is the legal remedy for domestic violence.
Under Ohio law, domestic violence occurs when a current or former member of the family or household does one of three things:
- Knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical harm to another family or household member
- Recklessly causes serious physical harm to another family or household member
- Knowingly causes, by threat of force, a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to that family or household member
Who is a member of a family or household? It can be a spouse, former spouse, parent, stepparent, children, stepchildren or other relatives. It can also include a boyfriend or girlfriend who has been living in the household as a spouse in the past five years, as well as any of their children.
Domestic violence is a serious crime that is often triggered by drugs or alcohol, or by the extreme emotions that arise during intense divorce and child custody cases. Because the consequences can be harsh, false domestic violence charges should not be made in order to gain an advantage in divorce or custody cases and once the accusation is made the state can still punish an accused offender, even when the victims try to withdraw the charge and do not press charges.
About Civil Protection Orders
A civil protection order is a restraining order that prohibits someone — a spouse, family member or any other member of your household — from having any contact with you following an incident or threat of domestic violence.
If a member of your household obtains a civil protection order (CPO) against you, the court can order you out of the residence and bar you from coming within 500 feet of the person who is protected by the order. If you are married and/or children are involved, the court may award temporary custody, child support and spousal support to the protected party and bar you from having any contact with the children. The court may also order you to turn over and bar you from possessing any firearms. Violation of any of the terms of the CPO may result in your immediate arrest.
While CPOs are sometimes necessary to protect a person from violence, other times false accusations are made to get a spouse kicked out of the house during a divorce action or to get the upper hand in a child custody dispute. For the person subject to a protection order, the effects can be devastating. You may be forced out of your home, your relationship with your children may be disrupted and even your job may be affected.
Steps To Obtain A Civil Protection Order
In order to obtain a CPO in Ohio, you must submit a petition along with any evidence you have to the court. These are some of the steps you should expect to take as you go through the legal process:
- Gather evidence. Any indication of violence or threats made to you or your family should be documented and prepared for the court.
- Submit your petition. The court will require the proper paperwork as well as your official statement on your case. If you are in immediate and present danger, you may ask the court for a temporary or ex parte protection order. If granted, this order would remain active until your main hearing, which typically occurs within 7-10 days.
- Attend your hearing. Even if the court grants you a temporary protection order, the other party will still be able to defend themselves against your claims. If the parties do not come to an agreement to the terms of the order, the court will decide if one should be issued and for how long.
- Modify or renew your CPO. Your CPO may last up to five years. But once that time runs out, you may petition to renew the order. Depending on the circumstances, you may also petition the court to modify the terms of the order.
Speak With One Of Our Lawyers
At the law firm of Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson in Columbus, Ohio, our lawyers represent men and women seeking civil protection orders against abusive spouses or family members, as well as men and women accused of domestic violence. We also defend people who face allegations of domestic violence.