A protection order, also known as a restraining order, is a civil or criminal order that is issued to protect a petitioner from harassment or violence from the defendant. When the petitioner and defendant are going through a divorce, this can have a significant impact on the proceedings. Below are three things you should know if you're the defendant being named in a protection order while simultaneously divorcing the petitioner.
1. A Protection Order Can Stall Your Divorce Proceedings
In general, protection orders and divorce fall under the same type of court proceeding: civil. You may think this means that they will be handled together. While this may be true in some instances, it's not true for the vast majority of cases.
The way your district handles this will vary. If the protection order is issued by your family law judge, then the divorce proceedings may continue as before. If the order was issued by a criminal judge or non-family law judge, then the divorce proceedings may halt while the risk of imminent danger to the petitioner is determined.
2. It May Impact Your Ability to See Your Child
The purpose of a protection order is to protect the petitioner against contact from the alleged abuser. However, this order can also extend to any children under the care of the petitioner. With a temporary protection order in place, the judge may allow the custodial parent to withhold visitation—and even written and phone contact—from the non-custodial parent. This may result in you going days, or even weeks, without speaking with or seeing your children.
If you fail to properly address the temporary protection order, this loss of contact can continue at the permanent order hearing. This means you may be left without contact with your child for months or years.
3. You Can Fight a Protection Order
While a temporary protection order can be ordered with very little proof of violence or harassment, the issuance of a permanent order requires much more in the way of proof. You have every right to fight the protection order, and it's in your best interests to do so.
Your first step should be to consult your family law attorney (if the order was issued in a civil court) or to obtain a criminal law attorney. They can help you to know your rights, as well as collect any relevant proof to defend yourself. This may include written contact that shows that the petitioner was lying when they requested the order or proof—such as time clock records or surveillance videos—that shows claims of physical contact or violence between you and the petitioner were unsubstantiated.
Even if a permanent protection order is issued, your attorney may be able to plead on your behalf to exclude your children from the order so you can continue contact while you proceed with your divorce.
Divorce is stressful enough without the added strain of fighting against an unwarranted protection order. This is why you need a knowledgeable lawyer on your side. To contact a lawyer, visit a site like http://WWW.TML-LAW.com.