Domestic abuse allegations should not be taken lightly, and can significantly impact the outcome of a related custody dispute. A rather efficient process is in place to deal with domestic abuse cases, but there are many legal issues involved in the issuance of an Order for Protection. For that reason, it is suggested that you secure the services of reputable family law attorneys or domestic assault attorneys in Minnesota to assist you.
The Meaning of “Domestic Abuse”
In Minnesota, the definition of “domestic abuse” is contained with the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act, found within Chapter 518B of the Minnesota statutes.
The Act defines domestic abuse as:
- Physical harm, bodily injury or assault;
- The infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault;
- Terroristic threats;
- Interference with a 911 call; or
- Criminal sexual misconduct.
To qualify as “domestic” abuse, the foregoing acts must have been committed against a family, or household, member.
The Act defines a “family or household member” as:
- Former spouses;
- Persons related by blood;
- Persons residing together;
- Persons who have resided together in the past;
- Persons who have a child in common;
- Persons expecting a child together; or
- Persons involved in a romantic, or sexual, relationship.
Relief Available to Victims of Domestic Abuse
If an individual has committed an act of domestic abuse upon another, the abused party can seek relief with the help of our domestic assault lawyers under the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act in the form of an Order for Protection (often referred to as an “OFP”).
Relief available to victims of domestic abuse includes:
- Restraining the other party from committing further acts of domestic abuse;
- Preventing the abusing party from being present at the victim’s residence or place of employment (or a reasonable area surrounding their home or workplace);
- An award of temporary physical or legal custody of the minor children, or pets, of the parties;
- An award of temporary child support or, if married, spousal maintenance;
- Temporary possession of the residence of the parties;
- An order that the abusing party participate in counseling or other therapy designed to address anger, parenting, or domestic abuse issues.
Under the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act, the Court can enter an Order for Protection that is valid for up to two years. An OFP can be reviewed and extended, if the Court deems appropriate.
Persons Eligible To Petition for an OFP
Any adult who is the victim of domestic abuse may petition for an OFP. In addition, any family, or household, member may petition on behalf of the victim of domestic abuse.
In situations involving an act of domestic abuse committed upon a child, any family, or household, member, or guardian may petition for relief on behalf of the minor. In some situations, a “reputable adult” over the age of 25 can petition for relief, despite the lack of a familial relationship.
In requesting an Order for Protection, the petitioning party must complete a Petition and an Affidavit.
The Petition must allege that an act of domestic abuse has occurred, and outline, with specificity, the relief sought by the requesting party.
Our domestic abuse lawyers in Minnesota will work with you to construct an Affidavit that outlines all of the relevant facts justifying the issuance of the Order for Protection.
The Process of Obtaining a Protective Order
The requesting party must file their Petition and Affidavit with the Court without providing a copy to the other side. Once the Court has an opportunity to review the paperwork, an initial determination will be made as to whether a Temporary Order for Protection should issue.
If the Temporary Order for Protection is issued, the other side will be served by the Sheriff. The other side has an opportunity to dispute the issuance of the OFP by requesting an evidentiary hearing (a trial).
At trial, the petitioning party bears the burden of demonstrating that acts of domestic abuse have been perpetrated by a preponderance of the evidence. This differs from the burden of proof in criminal cases (beyond a reasonable doubt).
Criminal Charges for Violating an OFP
The violation of an Order for Protection is a crime in Minnesota. The first offense involves a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. Additional violations are charged more seriously, as a gross misdemeanor or felony.