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Four Things To Know About Protective Orders

Four Things To Know About Protective Orders

The Indiana Civil Protective Order Act (“Act”) provides powerful relief to help ensure the safety of certain covered Hoosiers who find themselves in dangerous situations, such as a victim of domestic violence. Additionally, the Act covers certain minor children in harmful situations or individuals, such as from an abusive or drug-addicted parent. While protective orders issued under the Act are unique and powerful tools, they may be abused in cases by a petitioner’s false allegations and issued against a person who is not a threat to anyone. This blog looks at four things to know about protective orders so that you may protect yourself as a victim, or defend yourself against false allegations.

Who Can Obtain a Protective Order? Indiana statutory code provides a specific list of individuals who can obtain a protective order (“PO”). First, a person who is, or has been, a victim of domestic or family violence may file for a PO against a family or household member who committed the act of domestic or family violence.1 Second, a victim of stalking or a sex offense can obtain a PO against the perpetrator. Third, a person who is, or has been, subjected to harassment may file for a PO against the person committing the harassment. Finally, a parent or guardian can file for a PO on behalf of a minor child who has been subject to domestic or family violence, or a victim of stalking.

Where Do I File for a Protective Order? An individual can file for a PO in any court of record. There is no residency requirement to file for a PO, as opposed to filing for divorce, for example. This means that, even if you are only temporarily residing in Indiana, or in a specific county in Indiana, you can file for a PO without having to worry about being a resident of the state or specific county. The only requirements on filing are that a petition for a PO must be filed in a county where (1) the petitioner currently or temporarily resides; (2) the respondent resides; or (3) where domestic or family violence occurred.2

A Protective Order Can be Granted Ex Parte. If a victim petitions for a PO and alleges that there has been domestic or family violence, then a Court may issue an order of protection ex parte. Ex parte simply means without a hearing, which is something of a rarity in the American legal system. The purpose, of course, is to prevent further abuse or violence. This ex parte exception for a PO can only be used when there is domestic or family violence, and it does not apply to Petitioner’s alleged harassment.

Sufficiency of Evidence to Obtain PO. In order to obtain a PO, an individual must have some sort of evidence which would show the Court that a PO is proper and needed. It is not enough to simply allege domestic violence or harassment. For example, if a Petitioner is alleging domestic or family violence, the Petitioner must prove that the Respondent: (1) was attempting to cause, threatening to cause, or causing physical harm; (2) placing a family or household member in physical harm; (3) causing a family or household member to involuntary engage in sexual activity; or (4) beating, torturing, mutilating, or killing a vertebrate animal without justification with the intent to threaten.3 There are similar provisions for harassment and stalking which dictate what a petitioner must prove.

Ultimately, the right to seek a protective order is limited to a narrow group of people and tied to very specific acts that are of social significance. Protective Orders are unique and very complex, but where granted, have significant implications. A skilled attorney can help you to navigate these murky waters if you seek a protective order or need to defend against a protective order issued against you. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle all facets of protective orders and practice throughout the State of Indiana. This blog post is written by Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates. This blog is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.

  1. Ind. Code 34-26-5-2
  2. Ind. Code 34-26-5-4
  3. Ind. Code 34-6-2-34.5.

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