Chandler protective order attorney
Helping people with protective order matters in the Phoenix East Valley and throughout Maricopa County, Arizona
All too often, domestic violence is an issue in Arizona family law cases. If so, a protective order may be appropriate and even essential. It also can complicate matters, especially when the protected and protected-against parties have one or more children in common. If you are in a situation in which you or your family is being harassed or threatened, or if you have had a protective order slapped against you, be sure to consult with an experienced Chandler protective order attorney.
Definition of a protective order
You may have heard a protective order referred to as an order of protection, a restraining order, or an injunction against harassment. No matter what it is called, a protective order is a court order whose purpose is protecting the safety and well-being of one or more persons who are being harassed, intimidated, threatened, or harmed by another person.
In Arizona, an order of protection usually involves people who either are currently or have been in a romantic relationship, or are related by blood or marriage. An injunction against harassment is the term used for protective orders involving unrelated or non-intimate persons. A restraining order typically applies to a criminal case.
Orders of protection may be temporary or emergency, or they may be permanent. Temporary or emergency means that the order is issued ex parte, meaning that the allegations from the victim or victims are heard without the defendant being present or even having notice. Usually, this type of order is designed to expire within a short period, such as overnight or within 10 days. It may be subject to a request for a hearing by the defendant, at which time the order may be dropped.
A permanent order isn’t truly permanent. Usually, it lasts only six months or a year, but with unlimited renewability. An order relating to an alleged perpetrator and victim in a criminal matter usually lasts for the duration of the court proceedings or, if there is a conviction, through the sentencing period.
How protective orders work
You may have heard it said that a protective order is only a piece of paper that cannot really protect someone if someone else wants to hurt him or her. To a certain extent, this is true. Defendants have been known to “walk right through” a restraining order. Still, in the ordinary course of business, it can be quite helpful to have that piece of paper.
If the undesired party shows up unannounced and causes the covered person or persons to be reasonably afraid for their safety or that of their loved ones, they can call the authorities and tell the dispatcher they have in hand a protective order signed by a judge. These words may prompt not only a response but also a quicker response. Also, potential and actual breaches of protective orders often happen at night or on weekends, when the court is closed. So having proof that the court has signed an order and showing a copy to the police officer often does wonders.
How to get a protective order
First, you must have a reasonable belief that you are in danger of imminent psychological trauma, physical assault, death, or any combination of these, at the hands of the person from whom you want to be protected. The standard is what the average adult would think, not what a particularly sensitive person might think.
Then you need to go to your county’s superior court or justice court and ask the clerk of court for a form petitioning for a protective order. In Arizona, you complete and turn in the form, and then wait your turn to speak with a judge between his or her regular hearings.
If you already have a case in Superior Court, such as a divorce proceeding, the Justice Court clerks may ask you to go to Superior Court. There you will file for a protective order and speak to a judge.
Be sure to allow plenty of time to see the judge because you may have to wait all day. It takes patience, but typically the wait is well worthwhile.
What to put on the application for a protective order
In the petition for a protective order, be as specific as possible about what things the person has done in the past to cause you harm or fear of harm. This includes dates, times, locations, and what happened. Start with the most recent occurrences and go back in time from there. Also specify the locations you want protected, such as home, work, or school, and everyone you want to be protected by the order.
You can list only one defendant (the alleged perpetrator) per application, but you can list an unlimited number of family members or household residents who you feel are directly in harm’s way.
Keeping a protective order in place
It is generally easy to get a protective order but much harder to keep it in place. You may choose to have an attorney or certified legal document preparer help you fill out and file the form, but the judge does not allow anyone other than the alleged victim(s) in the courtroom or chambers (the judge’s office) to discuss the request for a protective order.
Regardless, if a protective order is granted, the person against whom it is ordered can challenge its propriety by asking for a hearing. This hearing is supposed to be held within five to ten business days after the defendant requests a hearing.
What happens at the protective order hearing
If the person against whom the protective order is obtained objects at all to it, he or she has the right to a hearing. Both sides must appear and give their own testimony and arguments, call witnesses, and provide evidence as available and relevant. If one or more of the parties are represented, the lawyers will take care of these details.
The court has two options:
- Uphold the order and affirm it for a “permanent” time period
- Quash, or dismiss, the order effective immediately at the conclusion of the hearing or after “taking it under consideration,” that is, ruling in writing after thinking about it for hours or days
Special considerations when children are involved
If the two parties to a protective order share any minor children, the matter becomes much more complicated. There will need to be some regular communication about the day-to-day and any urgent needs of the children. Therefore, the court often will order the parties to select a neutral third party—or the judge will appoint someone—to act as a go-between until the protective order expires. Also, many social-service agencies can provide a safe, controlled environment for visitation and/or exchanges at minimal cost.