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Personal Protection Orders and Family Violence Issues

A personal protection order, or PPO, is an order issued by the court precluding another individual, a respondent, from contact with the petitioner. A petitioner may file an application for a PPO after providing information that would support the grant of the order.

A PPO may be sought in the instance of family violence. Family violence is commonly defined as one spouse engaging in a violent or threatening act, or in abusive behavior against the other spouse or members of the family. Examples of abusive behavior include:

  • Physical abuse.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Severe Emotional abuse.

Although procedures differ from state to state, the court will generally hold a hearing to determine whether the evidence supports the issuance of a PPO. The court may not grant a PPO unless it finds that family violence has occurred in the past and is likely to occur in the future. Also, the court may grant a PPO if the respondent violated criminally enforceable provisions of a prior PPO. The parties may agree in writing, with the court's approval, to cease from engaging in certain types of behavior.

Violation of a Prior PPO

It is within the court's purview to issue a PPO without a hearing if the respondent violated a prior PPO. However, the violation of the conditions of the prior PPO must have occurred when the PPO was in effect. The respondent's conduct must have been an act of family violence, harassment, or unauthorized communication with a protected person, most likely the petitioner.

Standing to File a Petition for a PPO

Standing to file a petition for a PPO for issues involving family violence vary from state to state. Generally, any adult member of a household may file a petition for a PPO. Also, any adult may file a petition for a PPO on the basis of protecting a child in the household, a prosecuting attorney may file an application or a state agency may file a petition for a PPO.

Copyright 2014 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.