Domestic Violence Issues: Civilian Temporary Protective Orders and MPO’s

Protective Orders & MPOs

If your spouse is battering you in any manner, or threatening serious bodily harm to you or any child in your custody or care, then you should seek protection. A military service member may be ordered by his Commanding Officer to remain away from his home as well as stay away from his wife and children through a Military Protective Order (“MPO”).  If the service member violates the MPO, he or she can be subjected to punishment under Article 92 of the UCMJ (violation of a lawful order). 

Likewise, a civilian judge can order any person in the state to stay away from his or her home, family, child or child’s parent through a Protective Order. Protective Orders and MPO’s [1]are intended to separate the parties to avoid further abusive conduct. If a person violates a Protective Order, he or she is subject to punishment for contempt of court which includes incarceration. Also, the Protective Order creates a public record that often deters future violence. However, neither an MPO nor a civilian Protective Order can protect you from a person who is determined to harm you.

Civilian Protective Orders:        

There are generally two types of civilian protective orders: temporary protective orders and final protective orders.

(H-3) Temporary Protective Orders:

A Temporary Protective Order (a “TPO”) is an immediate order to stay away from another person (including that person’s home or work) which lasts from one week to one month. A final Protective Order lasts from six months to a year and is intended to be a final disposition of the case. In some cases, a final Protective Order may be extended for an additional six months to a year.

Getting a TPO from a civilian judge may be based on just an accusation without any other evidence. Typically, a person who accuses a spouse of abuse merely has to appear before a judge without notice to the accused spouse (called the Respondent) and allege battery (hitting), or threatening serious harm. The TPO is meant to separate the parties immediately until a hearing on the allegations can be held. 

If you have been battered or threatened by your spouse, you can go to the local courthouse and tell a judge who will immediately issue a TPO. The TPO will be served personally on the Respondent by the local sheriff’s office. As stated above, the TPO is a court order and if it is violated, the Respondent may be jailed (for up to a year in most states).  However, the TPO only lasts until a final hearing can be held on the issue.