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Domestic Relationship Personal Protection Orders


    What Is a Domestic Relationship Personal Protection Order?

    A Domestic Relationship Personal Protection Order (PPO) is a court order to stop threats or violence against you by a person with whom you have a domestic relationship. You have a domestic relationship with a person who is:

    • Your current or ex-spouse

    • Your child’s other parent

    • Someone you live with now, or used to live with

    • Someone you have dated

    A dating relationship is not a casual friendship or business acquaintance. It is an intimate or affectionate relationship with someone. The relationship could be short or long, and could be recent or in the past.

    How Can a Domestic PPO Help Me?

    A Domestic Relationship PPO can help you if someone assaulted or threatened you, or if you have a reasonable fear for your personal liberty or safety. Depending on your situation, your Domestic Relationship PPO could prohibit the abuser from doing some or all of the following things:

    • Entering your home or other place

    • Assaulting, attacking, beating, molesting, or wounding you or another named person

    • Threatening to kill or physically injure you or another named person

    • Removing your children from you if you have legal custody of them

    • Buying or having a gun

    • Interfering with you removing your children or personal property from a place the abuser owns or leases

    • Interfering with you at your job or school, or acting in a way that harms your job or school relationships or environment

    • Having access to your home address, work address, or telephone number in records that concern a child of both of you

    • Stalking you

    • Any other specific act or behavior that interferes with your personal freedom or makes you reasonably afraid of something violent happening to you (this could include other specific behaviors that you want the court to prohibit)

    You may ask for specific protections when you fill out your paperwork, but the judge will decide what your order will prohibit.

    How Do I Get a Domestic Relationship PPO?

    To get a Domestic Relationship PPO, you need to file a petition with a Circuit Court in Michigan. You can file in the county where you live, or you can file in any other Michigan county. You will be asked for important information that the court needs. As best you can, tell the court what the abuser has done to you and how you have been emotionally or physically harmed. If you can, try to give the dates or times of year that events happened. Include everything you want the judge to know. You do not have to have police reports or other evidence to get a Domestic Relationship PPO. However, if you do have them, you can attach copies of them to your petition. They can help the judge understand what has happened to you.

    You might be afraid that you will be harmed if you do not get a PPO right away. You might be afraid that you will be harmed if the abuser finds out that you are asking for a PPO. If so, you can ask for an emergency order. This emergency order is called an ex parte order. If the court gives you an ex parte order, you will not have to wait for a hearing before you get your order. The abuser will not know that you are asking for a PPO until after you get your order.

    An ex parte order is effective as soon as the judge signs it, and is usually valid for at least six months. You must arrange for delivery (service) of the ex parte order on the abuser. The police may have trouble enforcing criminal penalties on the abuser if the abuser has not been served and then violates the PPO.

    If you are not in immediate danger, or if the judge needs more information, there will be a court hearing before a Domestic Relationship PPO is given. If there is a hearing, it will be within 21 days of when you filed your petition. Before the hearing date, you must serve the abuser with the petition (and any attachments) and notice of the hearing.

    What Will My Domestic Relationship Personal Protection Order Say?

    A Domestic Relationship PPO will state these things:

    • That your order is effective and immediately enforceable anywhere in the state

    • What actions the abuser is prohibited from doing

    • When your order expires

    • What happens if the abuser violates your order

    • The name of the specific law enforcement agency that will enter your order into the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN).

    What Happens After My Domestic Relationship PPO Is Signed?

    Your PPO and petition must be served on the abuser. Your Domestic Relationship PPO is enforceable in the State of Michigan as soon as it is signed by a judge, even though it has not yet been served on the abuser. Once your order has been served, it can be enforced anywhere else in the United States.

    There are several ways to serve the PPO and petition, but you are not allowed to serve them yourself. Service should be done in a way that keeps you safe. Once the PPO has been served, a form called Proof of Service must be filed with the court clerk. For more information about serving your PPO, see the Serving Your Personal Protection Order article.

    Staying Safe with a Domestic PPO

    • Carry a copy of your Domestic PPO and Proof of Service with you all of the time

    Keep a second copy in a safe place. You can ask the court for extra copies of the order to give to your children’s schools or day care providers, your place of work, and others who need to know about it.

    • Planning for Your Safety

    Your chances of being hurt by the abuser may increase when you leave an abusive relationship or when you seek legal help. Planning for your safety ahead of time can help. Your safety plan might include things like where you will go or who you will call if you feel threatened. It can include important telephone numbers, an escape plan, or checklists of important things to take with you when you leave the abuser. Contact your local domestic violence agency, the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence or the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help thinking about your safety options and making a safety plan.

    Enforce Your Domestic PPO

    You might be tempted for many reasons to agree to behavior by the abuser that violates your PPO. Maybe you feel safe now that you have the order. Maybe the abuser promises that things will be different. The abuser may ask to come to your house to pick up the children, but your PPO prohibits the abuser from coming to your house. Whatever the reason, you should not agree to behavior by the abuser that violates your PPO. The abuser can be arrested for behavior that violates your PPO even if you have agreed to it. If you want to change your PPO before it expires, you must go back to court and ask the judge to change or end it.

    If the abuser violates your PPO, you can call the police and report the violation. You can get support and information about enforcing your order by calling your local domestic violence agency. You can also file a Motion to Show Cause asking the court to punish the abuser for violating your PPO. For more detailed information about how to enforce your PPO, see the Personal Protection Order Violations and Enforcement article.

    To find out more about Personal Protection Orders, please see the articles Overview of Personal Protection Orders, Minors and Personal Protection Orders, and Crossing State Lines with a Personal Protection Order