The Domestic Relations Court handles civil protection orders between members of a household. A civil protection order is granted when a member of the family files a complaint alleging another member of the family has committed or threatened to commit an act of domestic violence. Protection orders are designed to stop threats or acts of domestic violence. The Court can grant the order essentially making it a punishable offense if the order is violated. There are important procedures the court must follow when dealing with protection orders.
The protection order is initiated when a member of the family files a petition in the court explaining why a protection order is necessary. That person is called the petitioner and the member of the household the allegations are against is called the respondent. Typically, the petitioner can get an ex parte hearing the very same day the protection order is filed. Ex parte means that the court only hears evidence from the petitioner and not the respondent. If the court finds a protection order is necessary based on petitioner’s evidence, they can put into place an ex parte order of protection. The court then must set the matter for a full hearing so that the respondent can respond to the allegations. The time frame in which the court must do so is governed under Ohio law but generally it is between seven to ten days.
At the full hearing, the respondent has two options. Respondent can request the matter proceed to hearing and request the protection order be dismissed. In that case, the court will hear evidence from both sides and make a decision on whether to grant the protection order. The court can dismiss the protection or make a finding that domestic violence or a threat of domestic violence has occurred and grant the protection order. The second option for the respondent is to enter into a consent agreement. In doing so, respondent agrees to stay away from the petitioner. There is no hearing and there is no finding that respondent committed an act of domestic violence.
If a protection order is put in place, that does not mean that respondent has been committed of a crime. However, if the order is violated, respondent can be charged with a criminal offense or be found in contempt of court. Children are often involved in protection orders. The law can be fairly complex with how children are dealt with. As you can see, the stakes are high in these types of cases whether you are the respondent or the petitioner. An attorney is invaluable to guiding you through the process, especially if children are involved.