No one wishes for a divorce. And if it unfortunately does happen, you hope that you and your former spouse will be amicable with one another. You definitely don’t want your divorce to turn into a bitter battle or be in a situation where you fear for your and your children’s physical well-being. But if this is the case, you can acquire legal protection with an Order of Protection (OOP).
What is an OOP?
By its nature, the OOP is designed to protect a person from another person to whom they are meaningfully connected in some way. Marriage, family relation, sharing a residence, having an existing/previous romantic relationship, or having a child together are connections that can warrant obtaining an OOP. In general, the OOP is designed to protect you from anyone who is close to you and wishes to do you harm or has already harmed you.
Here are a few common reasons why an OOP may be warranted and how it can help you:
Entering an OOP on Behalf of a Child
An OOP may be requested on behalf of a child. A court will enter such an Order if it believes an act of domestic violence against the child may occur or has occurred within the past year. (On occasion, the court will consider acts that occurred more than a year ago.)
An OOP to Prevent Domestic Violence
Even if you do not have a child, an OOP can be entered to prevent domestic violence. The term “domestic violence” encompasses many acts other than physical violence. Acts of domestic violence have been committed against you if:
- You have been threatened or intimidated, either over the phone or in-person
- Words or actions have caused you to fear for your physical safety
- Damage has been done to you or around you
- You have been restrained
How to Request an OOP
You may request an OOP from the Superior Court, a Justice Court, or a Municipal Court. If you are already involved in a legal separation, divorce or paternity matter, you should obtain your Order through the Superior Court.
What can an OOP Do?
An OOP can do a number of things to help a victim, including:
- Ordering that the perpetrator commit no acts of domestic violence against you
- Ordering the perpetrator not to contact you or other designated persons (such as children), either in person, by telephone, or by e-mail
- Ordering the perpetrator to not come near your home, place of employment, school, or other location
- Prohibiting the perpetrator from possessing or purchasing firearms
- Granting you the exclusive use/possession of your home
How Long is an OOP in Effect?
An OOP remains valid for one year, but must be served on the perpetrator to be effective. The perpetrator may request a hearing to contest the Order. The court then must determine whether the Order should stay in place or be dismissed. If you have an Order of Protection, keep a copy with you at all times. If the Order is violated, report the breach to the police immediately.
Domestic violence is a community concern that is taken seriously by our police department and judicial system.
Contact us at Hallier Lawrence for more information on how to protect you and your children’s physical well-being.