A protection order is an official document from a judge. When a judge issues a protection order, they are ordering an abuser to stop certain actions which help keep the victim safe. The protection order can tell an abuser to stop actions like:
- Hurting you
- Threatening you
- Contacting you
- Coming to your home or workplace
If you are filing for a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order, possible additional protections include making the abuser move out of your home or addressing child-related issues.
- A Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order protects you from threats or violence from a family or household member.
- A Dating Violence Civil Protection Order protects you from threats or violence from someone you are or were recently dating. The court defines dating as a mutual, romantic or intimate relationship with an adult who is not part of your household. The relationship must have happened within the past year.
Filing for a civil protection order does not guarantee your safety. Learn about the other types of protection orders in Ohio and the risks of filing for a civil protection order here.
How to get a Domestic Violence or Dating Violence Civil Protection Order
You do not need a lawyer to apply for a protection order, but a lawyer can be helpful. Some lawyers can help you for free. Some courts also have special departments that can help you through the Civil Protection Order process. Community advocates can also assist you for free. Check Local Government and Community Resources to see if your court has a Domestic Violence Help Center or other resources.
To get a Domestic Violence or Dating Violence Civil Protection order:
- Get the forms. You can use our Form Assistant to generate the Domestic Violence or Dating Violence Civil Protection Order Forms. Include details about the recent violence, threats and stalking and a history of past violence, threats and stalking. You can attach additional pages. The court may limit your case to the incidents described in the forms. So, be sure to include all incidents you want considered.
- Talk to an expert. Before you file, talk to an advocate from a local domestic violence organization or an experienced lawyer. Advocates and lawyers can help you understand any additional risks you might have, connect you with services and help you complete the forms. Advocates may also be able to go to court with you.
- File the forms. Contact the local Domestic Relations Court where you live, where your abuser lives or where the abuse happened. Your court may have other local forms that you have to file with your petition, so ask the Clerk if there are more required forms before you file. You must go to the Clerk's office in-person to file.
- Attend the ex parte hearing. On the day that you file, the Court will hold an emergency hearing, called an "ex parte" hearing. The abuser does not attend the ex parte hearing. At this hearing, you (and your lawyer, if you have one) meet with the judge. The judge reviews your forms and may ask you some questions. Then, the judge decides if you need an emergency "ex parte" protection order that starts immediately.
- Complete service. “Service” is when the Court officially tells the abuser about your filing. When you fill out your civil protection order forms, you will complete the “Request for Service” on the last page of the petition. This is where you will tell the Court how you’d like service to be completed, either through in-person service by the Sheriff, certified mail or both. After you file, you will need to follow up with the Clerk’s office to make sure that service was completed. Your case cannot be heard at the full hearing until service has been completed.
- Attend the full hearing. Whether or not you are given the emergency, "ex parte" protection order, the Court will hold a full hearing, usually within 7 or 10 business days, that the abuser may attend. At the full hearing, you testify and present evidence including any witnesses to show the judge why you need a protection order. You must show that there has been a recent threatening or violent act and that there is a danger of future violence. A lawyer can help you prepare evidence. If you want protection for your children or other family or household members, you must show why they are in danger, too. The abuser also has a chance to present evidence.
- Be careful with consent agreements. A “consent agreement” is where the parties negotiate and agree to the terms of the protection order. Unlike with a regular protection order, getting a consent agreement means that the court does not make a finding that the violence occurred, only that the parties agreed to the order. Some courts may consider a “mutual stay away order” which is different than a consent agreement. If the other party wants to negotiate a consent agreement or “mutual stay away,” you should consult with a lawyer first to see if it could put you at legal risk.
- Get a court order. The court issues the order at the end of the hearing. Keep your protection order with you in case you need to call the police to enforce it. Give copies to people who may need it (like your child’s school or local law enforcement). You can also share it with your employer if you feel comfortable disclosing that information.
How to enforce a protection order
If the abuser breaks the rules of a civil or criminal protection order, it is a “violation of the protection order” and they can be arrested or face other consequences.
If there is a violation of a civil or criminal protection order:
- You should call the police. The police can enforce protection orders by arresting the violator.
- The police or prosecutor can file criminal charges. If convicted, the abuser can face fines, probation, or jail time.
- For civil protection orders, the court that issued the order could also find the abuser in contempt of court. When someone violates a civil protection order, you can ask the court that issued the order to find them in contempt. If found in contempt, the abuser can face fines or jail time. Filing for contempt is complicated, so you should talk to a lawyer or advocate before filing.
If you do not feel safe calling the police, contact a lawyer or an advocate to determine your best options.
Renewing a civil protection order
To extend or renew a protection order, you must file before the original protection order’s expiration date.
Some courts require new violence or threats to extend or renew a protection order. Other courts allow you to extend or renew a protection order if you are still afraid of the abuser.
For help extending or renewing a protection order, talk to a lawyer.
This project was supported by Grant Nos. 2019-WF-VA1-8855 and 2020-WF-VA1-8855 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Justice.