Minnesota law does allow the victim of domestic abuse to seek protection in the form of an order for protection. The question for the court is going to be whether an act of domestic abuse as defined by law has occurred.

So often what we find are that folks come in and want to address a lengthy history of the relationship between the parties and honestly the court is really principally concerned with whether an act of domestic abuse has occurred and nothing else.

Domestic abuse is defined by statute as either a single incident of assault or the infliction of fear of assault. In order to qualify for an order for protection, there must be some sort of a familial relationship between the litigants. In other words, they need to be married or engaged or having lived together or have a child in common together.

Process-wise, what we do is file the initial petition, the request for the order, and the court will grant that on what’s called an ex parte basis. That means that the other side has no notice of your petition to seek that order for protection.

If the court signs off on that ex parte order, the Sheriff’s office is going to go ahead and serve the other side and then they are, at that point, precluded from your residence, your place of employment, or having any sort of contact with you, whether directly or indirectly. And the matter will by statute be set on for a hearing within a 14-day timeframe.

At the hearing itself, the court is going to have a short trial where testimony and evidence will be offered, and ultimately if the court accepts the allegations that are being raised by the alleged victim, the court can issue that order for protection on a more long-term basis, typically for up to two years.