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Civil Protection Orders and Divorce in Ohio: Marital Residence, Child Exchanges & More

A civil protection order, or a threat thereof, coinciding with the end of your marriage can severely alter the dynamic of your divorce. The goal of a civil protection order, when granted, is to keep the respondent away from the person who petitioned for the order. This article explains the relationship between civil protection orders and divorce in Ohio.

Also commonly referred to as a “restraining order,” this ruling can result in the respondent’s temporary or indefinite loss of access to the marital home, vehicles, or even custody of their child.

In other scenarios, a civil protection order may be solely intended to end communication and contact between parties in potentially threatening situations. Each protection order has its own constraints, so it is particularly important to understand yours.

Let us look into how one can begin legally protecting themselves on either side by understanding the possible outcomes of these orders.

Understanding Civil Protection Orders

Civil protection orders, known as CPOs, are often intended to protect victims of domestic violence from their perpetrator.

If the CPO is between a married couple, it will take place in domestic relations court. It can protect you, your children, and your loved ones by preventing certain actions. CPOs can be obtained by filing a petition with the court, preferably with the assistance of an attorney.

Next, an initial ex parte hearing occurs. There, the petitioner explains the situation to the court without the respondent being present. If the court finds it appropriate, a temporary protection order — known as an Ex Parte Order — is granted until such time as a review hearing, where the respondent can be present, is had.

At a review hearing, usually set seven to 10 days following the initial ex parte hearing, both sides may present evidence and the court will decide whether a full CPO will be granted or denied. If granted, the order can be in place for up to five years. If a respondent violates the CPO, they can be charged with violation of a protection order pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 2919.27.

Civil Protection Orders and the Marital Residence

Once an ex parte CPO has been issued, the spouse who is served (i.e., respondent) may be ordered to vacate the marital residence immediately.

If you have been served, do not act on instinct by contacting the petitioner. Ideally, you should contact a reliable attorney to determine your best next steps in navigating your civil protection orders and divorce in Ohio.

If removed from the marital residence, a police escort may accompany the respondent to collect their belongings, or the respondent may have someone return to the home on their behalf.

Impact of CPOs on Ohio Child Custody and Exchanges

When determining child custody, the judge considers what would be in the best interest of the child, and the existence of a protection order between the child’s parents — whether currently or in the past — will be part of those considerations.

When a CPO is issued, exceptions for parental communication regarding the child may be made in some cases. If visitation has been set prior to the CPO, and the child is a protected party, that visitation must cease until further order.

As attempting to exercise your visitation could result in a violation in the CPO, it is recommended that you speak with an attorney before taking any other action. If the child is not a protected party, exercising your visitation rights may still result in a violation of the CPO, particularly if both parties are normally present at the visitation exchanges. In such instances, the visitation orders or the CPO can be amended to avoid criminal liability for the respondent.

Also, there are third-party entities that may assist in the visitation exchange, such as a supervised visitation facility. Sometimes, a friend or family member will be the one to facilitate the exchange to ensure the respondent is not violating the CPO.

Strategies for Managing CPOs During Divorce

If you have been served:

  • Thoroughly and carefully review the order.
  • Find out how it affects your access to the marital home.
  • Do not contact the petitioner, even about children you share.
  • Do not respond to the petitioner’s messages or answer their calls.

If you are serving your partner:

  • Keep record of any contact.
  • Keep a copy of the CPO with you.
  • Attend the CPO review hearing.

Legal Rights Under Civil Protection Orders in Ohio

On either side of a Civil Protection Order, it can be a stressful process with many uncertainties. Make sure to consult with an attorney to understand what you can and cannot do in accordance with the order.

If you are being served with a protection order, you have:

  • The right to attend and contest the CPO hearing
  • Unless other specified, the right to your children within the constraints of the order
  • The right to an attorney in your defense

If you are filing for a protection order, you have:

  • The right to a victim advocate
  • The right of an attorney to help you file and make informed decisions
  • The possibility of being granted temporary custody of any shared children

For Help, Reach Out to an Ohio Family Law Attorney

The duration and provisions of a civil protection order depend upon many factors, such as evidence presented, relationship between the parties, severity of threat, and much more.

Violating a CPO can result in penalties and charges or affect your impending divorce. When a CPO is put into place during a divorce, your actions as both the respondent and the petitioner can make a significant impact on the outcome.

To ensure that you are truly acting in your best interest, contact a trusted attorney at Trolinger Law Offices as soon as possible. You can start by setting up a consultation and reading more about what we do in cases involving civil protection orders and divorce in Ohio.