What is an Order for Protection?

Domestic violence may happen in relationships, whether the couple is married or dating.  Domestic violence affects people no matter their race, income level, sex or where they live.

Minnesota law allows a person to apply for an Order for Protection (“OFP”) which is a court Order keeping the violent person away from the victim including the child or children they may share or who live in the victim’s home.

Minnesota Statute Chapter 518B states a person can try to obtain an Order for Protection against a “family or household member” which is defined as:

1.         A spouse or former spouse;

2.         Those in a significant romantic or sexual relationship;

3.         Parents and children;

4.         Those related by blood;

5.         People living together or who have lived together in the past; or

6.         People who have a child together even if the parents were married, divorced or living together.

If the parties are family or household members, a person must prove there is domestic abuse and thereby obtain an Order for Protection.  Domestic abuse is defined as:

1.         “Physical harm, bodily injury or assault”.  This means there has to be physical contact.

2.         The “infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault.”  Imminent physical harm can be a person threatening to hurt someone with a weapon.  This may be domestic abuse but the threat must be made with imminent harm, or a threat made very recently.  If one year ago a husband had a weapon and threatened to hit the other spouse that is likely is not domestic abuse because the acts of domestic abuse happened some time ago.

3.         Terroristic threats.

4.         Acts of criminal sexual conduct.

5.         Interference with an emergency call.

Talking with a family law attorney who has experience in domestic violence cases is incredibly important because an Order for Protection directly impacts a current or future divorce or custody case.  A person needs an attorney to plan ahead for how an Order for Protection is going to affect his or her family court case now and into the future.

Jessica Sterle

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