Temporary Protective Orders

Protective orders are typically used in domestic disputes to ban one party from contact with another or from interfering with an order of the court with respect to child visitation or custody rights. They are also frequently used in cases of spousal abuse to keep the violent party from coming into contact with the victim. Protective orders are usually temporary measures that the court uses in order to remedy suspected destructive activity while the parties gather and present evidence showing that a more permanent remedy is required. Protective orders may sometimes be granted ex parte, that is without the presence of the party being affected, but only when there is substantial evidence that the party applying for the order is under an imminent threat of injury or when there is good evidence that an order of the court will be violated.

Protective orders have a wide range of temporary duration. Typically, they last for one year with extensions possible under certain particular circumstances. Six states allow the imposition of protective orders for up to three years, and three other states limit them to just 90 days. Ohio has enacted a law that sets the duration of a protective order at five years, the longest of any state. Violations of protective orders also vary widely. Although most states impose a maximum one year sentence and a $1,000 fine, eight states require mandatory jail time for violating a protective order.

Virtually all states require transmission of protective orders to local law enforcement agencies. Twelve states require transmission within 48 hours. A few states have set up state-wide registries or information systems that keep track of protective orders that are presently in effect. Utilization of technology, such as the internet, and wide area networks, permit easy access to statewide registries. In Iowa, for example, it is required to get certified copies of protective orders into the hands of law enforcement agencies within six hours of issuance.