An Order of Protection is a court order intended to protect an individual on whose behalf it is issued, from acts of violence, harassment, abuse, stalking, threats, or other types of unacceptable behavior, on the part of another person. Such orders are potentially available to anybody who is or feels that they are in danger from another person, whether in a matrimonial or other context. The one seeking such an order is called the “Petitioner” and the one whom it is sought against is the “Respondent”.
Orders of Protection
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An Order of Protection is generally issued upon showing, typically to the Family Court, that a “family offense” was directed against the Petitioner by a current or former spouse, partner, or family member. In such an instance, an Order can be granted under the controlling provisions of the California Family Court Act. Examples of family offenses which can lead to an Order of Protection are:
• Other alleged behaviors
Why may an Order of Protection Issued?
These Orders usually come in two basic varieties. They are called “refrain-from” orders and “stay-away” orders. Orders of Protection are duration, which means that they have an expiration date. This expiration date is generally six months, one year, or two years. The expiration date is usually dependent an the particular circumstances of each individual case.
As the names suggest, these two types of Orders are intended to protect against different levels of behaviors. A refrain-from order directs a Respondent to avoid any harassing behavior, threatening gestures, or engaging in certain identified behaviors.
A stay-away Order is an absolute directive to a Respondent not to approach (sometimes within so many feet, yards, or blocks) the vicinity of the Petitioner, the parties’ children, their children’s school, the Petitioner’s workplace, the home of family members, and/or some other location(s).
In reality, a Petitioner must convince a Judge that an Order of Protection is valid, needed, and advisable. Owing to the often intense emotions and feelings present in many Family Law situations, an Order of Protection may be sought and even obtained where the Petitioner may not be in particular danger, and where the Respondent may be tremendously inconvenienced, and even imperiled by its terms. A stay-away order may put a person out of his home, put him out of reach of his records or personal property, or keep him from seeing his children, even before a Court has had a chance to make a final decision on the facts of a case!
Consequences for Violating an Order of Protection
The possible consequences of violating a valid Order of Protection can include:
• Contempt of court
• Prejudice with regard to other aspects of one’s family law matter (like child custody)
For these reasons, it is highly advisable that you contact an experienced attorney regarding the preservation of your rights.
Important Courses of Action
If you have not yet retained an attorney in your situation, and you are served with an Order of Protection, you are highly advised immediately to do two things:
• Conduct yourself in accordance with the terms of the Order, making sure not to violate it,
thereby putting yourself or your case in jeopardy
• Immediately seek legal counsel
The Law Offices of Kyle J. Farquhar ten years of Matrimonial and Family Law experience make our firm the right place to for you seek help, whether you need to file an Order of Protection, or if you have been served with one. Our talented attorneys can properly advise you on the logistics and appropriateness of using the Courts to obtain necessary relief or in defending against allegations levied against you.