Cincinnati Family Law & Divorce Blog: How Can I Obtain a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order?

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How Can I Obtain a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order?

In general, people think of domestic violence as being between two spouses or partners, but the Ohio Revised Code provides protection to the “family or household member,” including parents and children.

The Ohio Revised Code §3113.31 defines domestic violence as conduct of an individual involving force or threat of force to control a family or household member. Conduct can include physical violence, sexual violence, or child abuse.

There are various avenues you can take when faced with domestic violence. You can pursue a civil protection order, file a police report, file for divorce, seek community resources, or any combination of these options. If criminal domestic violence charges are filed, a temporary protection order may issue in the criminal case; this is separate from a civil protection order. Although all avenues may be an option for you, for purposes of this blog post, I will specifically address civil protection orders.

To start the process of obtaining a civil protection order, you must first file a petition for Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order “DVCPO.” Filing the petition will begin the process by asking the Court for protection. After the Petition is filed, the Petitioner (person filing the petition) will attend an ex parte emergency hearing, typically on the same day within a few hours of the filing of the petition. Ex parte means that the Respondent (person you filed the protection order against) is not given notice of the hearing and is not present for your testimony.

This hearing will allow you to tell your story, under oath, to the Magistrate and present evidence to the court. You can also bring witnesses to this hearing. In the petition and at the hearing you can ask the court to include other “protected parties” (such as minor children) in the order.

After you present your testimony at the ex parte hearing, the court will determine if you are entitled to an ex parte DVCPO. If an Ex Parte DVCPO order is granted, this means that in between the ex parte hearing and the full hearing, the Respondent is not permitted to be around you and any other protected parties, communicate with you and the other protected parties, and may even result in the Respondent having to vacate the residence if you live there as well. Regardless of whether an ex parte DVCPO is issued, a full hearing will be scheduled. The Respondent is served with a copy of the DVCPO and notice of the full hearing.

At the full hearing both Petitioner and Respondent appear and have a right to be represented by an attorney. Even if you filed your petition for DVCPO without an attorney, we strongly recommend you seek counsel prior to the full hearing to prepare and consider evidence to present. Like the ex parte hearing, at the full hearing, you are permitted to tell your story, however, this time the Respondent is given a chance to tell their side of the story in response. Both parties can bring witnesses, question the other party and the other parties’ witnesses, and submit evidence during this time. At the conclusion of the full hearing, the Court will determine if a final DVCPO is warranted. The Court will determine the length of protection based on the circumstances, but DVCPOs can be granted for up to five years.

Navigating the justice system as a survivor of domestic violence can be traumatic. Seeking counsel to assist you and advocate for you in court can make that experience less intimidating. Speaking to an attorney will give you an opportunity to discuss what filings are appropriate in your divorce proceeding given the domestic violence and whether filing for a DVCPO is in your best interest.

Click here for community resources from the Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court.