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Divorce is one of the most difficult things a person will go through. The proceedings may come with heightened emotions, fights, and tension. For many people, though, divorce is a better option than continuing to live with their spouse. If a spouse is abusive or any type of domestic violence issue is at play, it’s important to go through the divorce process as efficiently and safely as you can.

One of many potential issues throughout a divorce is a need for an Order of Protection. These legal orders, also sometimes called restraining orders, can become necessary in instances where a person is being threatened, abused, stalked, or sexually harassed. The goal of the Order of Protection is to provide legal protection for an abused party against their abuser.

About Orders of Protection

It takes a lot of courage to end a marriage no matter what the circumstances. But when abuse is a factor, getting out of the marriage can sometimes seem impossible. You may be afraid that your spouse will retaliate against you or your children. It’s important for you to have a smooth transition from living with your spouse to living independently.

If any kind of violence or abuse is going on under your roof, the most common legal recourse is to seek an Order of Protection. This document will outline terms regarding your spouse’s proximity to you and behavior toward you. It will limit their ability to contact you as well. The goal is to make sure you stay physically and emotionally safe while the divorce process is ongoing.

In cases where you have children under the age of 18, the Order of Protection will also extend to them. This can be a huge relief for spouses who fear for their children as well as themselves.

One of the best things you can do is hire an experienced lawyer to help you get the Order of Protection. Your lawyer will be able to examine the facts of the case and gather the necessary evidence. They’ll also provide you with resources and explain your options going forward. Everything your lawyer does will be done with the goal of serving your best interest.

Needing to file an Order of Protection is scary. You might be feeling frightened, overwhelmed, and like there’s no one to turn to. Your lawyer can provide emotional support and be an impartial anchor. They don’t have the same emotional involvement in the situation that you do, so they can get the objective facts necessary to convince a judge. They’ll also make sure all the paperwork is filed accurately and appropriately.

When an Order of Protection Applies

There are specific situations in which you can seek an Order of Protection. You need to make sure your circumstances apply before you file your paperwork.

If any act has involved physical violence or physical abuse, that’s grounds for an Order of Protection. But the abuse doesn’t have to be physical. Harassment and emotional abuse that cause you distress are also grounds for an Order of Protection.

Intimidating a dependent is grounds for protection for both you and the dependent. Any interference with your personal freedom counts as well, as does any kind of deprivation that can cause you mental, emotional, or physical harm.

Types of Order of Protection

There are three main types of protection order you might pursue.

One is an emergency order. This is an order typically put into place if you feel you’ll be in danger should your spouse know you intend to file an Order of Protection. For this type of order, your spouse doesn’t need to appear in court or even be informed about the order prior to its issue. You’ll go straight to the judge to make your case.

Emergency orders are filed on a temporary basis, typically lasting 2 to 3 weeks. They’ll expire when you have your official hearing for a longer-term Order of Protection.

The second type is an interim order. You don’t need a full hearing for this type. With that said, the accused abuser has the right to come to court and present their case. This is typically issued after an emergency order expires if a person is still waiting for a full hearing.

The third order is a plenary order. This cannot be issued until the case has been presented in a full hearing. Both involved parties may present their evidence. This order can last a maximum of two years and can be renewed as often as necessary.

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