If you are a victim of domestic abuse, filing an Order for Protection (OFP) can provide peace of mind and security for you and your household. The first step toward protecting yourself from an abuser is to seek help and find trustworthy legal assistance.
Getting an OFP is one step you can take to remove yourself or your family from a harmful or dangerous situation. An OFP is issued by Minnesota courts to help resolve family or household violence.
What Does an Order for Protection Do?
It’s important to remember that an OFP is not a criminal case, but a court order handled in family court.
An OFP can order an abuser to:
- Not hurt the victim(s)
- Stay away from the victim(s)
- Leave the home
- Provide temporary child support or spousal maintenance
- Abide by temporary custody or visitation time
How Is an Order for Protection Different from Other Protection Orders?
An OFP is different from other types of protection orders because it is dedicated to household or family violence, otherwise known as domestic abuse. The other protection orders issued by Minnesota courts are Domestic Abuse No Contact Orders (DANCO) and Harassment Restraining Orders (HRO).
A DANCO is issued as part of a criminal case where the criminal court orders an abuser to have no contact with the victim(s). An HRO is issued by the court to protect the victim against violence and harassment by someone like a neighbor, co-worker, distant relative or friend.
What Are Examples of Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse includes physical, verbal and/or sexual violence that threatens or inflicts harm and intentionally prevents a victim from seeking help or calling 911.
- Punching or slapping
- Shoving or pushing
- Pulling hair
- Locking a victim in a room
- Destroying furniture
- Breaking or throwing objects
- Waving a weapon around
- Forcing a victim to have sex
- Stopping a victim from calling for help by taking or breaking their phone
Who Can a Victim File an Order for Protection Against?
A victim can get an OFP against family members or household members including:
- Their current or former spouse
- A blood relative
- The father or mother of their child or unborn child (can be married or unmarried)
- A romantic or dating partner (a court will need to know if it was a “significant” relationship)
- Their child (must be 18 or older)
- Their parent
- A roommate or housemate
If the person you are filing an OFP against does not meet the relationship requirements for an OFP, you may need to consider a restraining order.
How Do You Obtain an Order for Protection in Minnesota?
- Complete and file all necessary documents and forms. Visit your local courthouse to obtain all required paperwork. Be thorough and take your time completing the OFP petition as this gives the judge a clear understanding of the abuse.
- Wait for the judge to review all paperwork and come to a decision. If the judge receives the forms quickly, this process should only take a few days. If you are in immediate danger, be sure to file an “ex parte order” to provide you with security in the meantime until a judge can grant your OFP.
- The abuser is served papers. A law enforcement officer will deliver all paperwork to the abuser. At that time, an ex parte order can go into effect until the hearing.
- Attend the court hearing or risk rescheduling. As the person who filed the petition, the judge will not proceed with the hearing until you are present. Be sure to attend and come prepared with evidence of the abuse.
Domestic Violence Attorneys in Minnesota
The Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) sympathizes with victims of domestic abuse and connects them with compassionate family law attorneys who can help. If you’re in the Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area and need legal representation, our team is quick to find you the assistance you need.
We understand that thinking about the future can be tough in abusive situations. Call (612) 752-6699 to speak with one of our referral counselors and let us help you take the first step toward a better, safer life.