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Protective Orders in Michigan: What You Need to Know

Clarkston Legal Nov. 22, 2019

Restraining-OrderDomestic violence is one of the most pervasive problems of our era. Statistically, a domestic violence incident occurs every nine seconds. Due to the scope of the problem, and the potential tragic consequences, protection is readily available for people who need it.

That being said, protective orders in Oakland County are not as easy to obtain as they were even a few years ago. For example, if there is a parallel proceeding in family court, like a divorce, many judges will not grant separate protective orders. Or, they require additional proof and a good reason they should exercise jurisdiction.

So, if you need help, it’s important to partner with an Oakland County family law attorney. Lawyers advocate for victims to help ensure they get the protection they need.

Protective Order Eligibility

In general, victims are eligible for PPOs (Personal Protective Orders) if they are related to the alleged abuser and there is an imminent threat of physical violence, or there is a pattern of nonviolent abuse.

Typically, if the alleged victim is related to the alleged abuser by blood or marriage, eligibility is basically automatic. Current or former dating partners, or current or former roommates, are also eligible. These relationships are a bit harder to establish. For example, a couple need not be engaged to be current or former dating partners. But one night together probably does not constitute a relationship.

An imminent threat of physical violence could be a violent incident or a verbal threat. Alleged victims need not prove injury; they only need to show that something violent occurred. False imprisonment situations (e.g. taking a person’s car keys) also qualify as violent incidents, in most cases. Threats like “I’m going to kill you” also suffice, as long as the alleged abuser had the ability to carry out the threat and the alleged victim reasonably feared for his or her safety.

Stalking, scrolling through text messages, and other such behavior may also justify a PPO, as long as there is a pattern of misconduct. One or two incidents, or even three or four, may not suffice, especially in ex parte situations.

Types of PPOs

Like most other states, Michigan law gives alleged victims several options when they seek protective orders. These options include:

  • Ex Parte Orders: In emergency situations, a judge may grant a protective order based on the alleged victim’s testimony. Judges almost never grant ex parte orders in stalking cases. But in most other cases, judges will grant orders and then give the alleged abuser an opportunity to be heard. Ex parte orders are usually good for two weeks.

  • Full PPOs: After notice and hearing, a judge may extend the ex parte order and also add additional provisions, such as support payment, anger management counselling, restricted child visitation, and a firearms possession ban.

In both these situations, the alleged victim has the burden of proof. This burden usually does not mean much in ex parte situations, since the judge only hears one side of the story. But in protective order hearings, additional evidence, such as police reports, medical bills, or eyewitness accounts, may be necessary.

A PPO is not just a piece of paper. PPOs often effectively deter alleged abusers. Furthermore, PPOs give third parties, like daycare centers, legal notice that there is a problem, so they must react accordingly.

Contact a Dedicated Lawyer

Protective orders are no longer there for the taking, but they are available if needed. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Oakland County personal protection & restraining orders lawyer, contact Clarkston Legal. Home and after-hours visits are available.