Procedures Applicable to a Plaintiff in a Protection Case - Relief Available

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F. Relief Available. Certain kinds of relief are available in an order of protection at or after the court hearing, depending upon whether the complaint is based on abuse or harassment. The plaintiff should be prepared to request specific and appropriate relief based on the circumstances of his/her case and the list below.

In an abuse, sexual assault or stalking case, the order of protection may:

  • Order the defendant to refrain from threatening, assaulting, molesting, harassing, stalking, attacking, or otherwise abusing the plaintiff and any minor children residing in the plaintiff's household;
  • Prohibit the defendant from using physical force against the plaintiff;
  • Grant exclusive possession of the shared residence to either party (or by agreement order a party to provide alternate housing for the other party);
  • Prohibit the defendant from entering the shared residence;
  • Prohibit the defendant from possessing or using a firearm or other dangerous weapon;
  • Order a division of the parties' household goods and personal property;
  • Award temporary custody of minor children or temporary visitation rights with minor children;
  • Order the payment of temporary support for one party, or any child in that party's custody;
  • Order one party to make child support payments to the state;
  • Require the defendant to receive counseling;
  • Order the defendant to terminate any life insurance policy on the plaintiff's life;
  • Direct the care, custody or control of any animal owned, possessed, kept or held by either party or minor child residing in the household.

In addition, in both abuse, sexual assault, and stalking cases and harassment cases, the protection order may:

  • Prohibit or limit the defendant from having contact, direct or indirect, with the plaintiff and any children on whose behalf the complaint has been brought. Direct contact means any contact by any means (including but not limited to in person contact, telephone calls, letters and notes, e-mail messages, etc.) directly by the Defendant to the Plaintiff. Indirect contact means any effort by the defendant to contact the plaintiff through other people (such as having them give messages or forward letters or e-mail to the plaintiff);
  • Order the defendant to refrain from threatening, assaulting, molesting, harassing, stalking, attacking, or otherwise abusing the plaintiff;
  • Prohibit the defendant from entering the plaintiff's residence;
  • Prohibit the defendant from following the plaintiff, or being at or in the vicinity of the plaintiff's home, school, business or place of employment, without reasonable cause;
  • Order the defendant not to take, damage or destroy the plaintiff's property;
  • Order payment of monetary compensation to the plaintiff for losses suffered as a direct result of abuse, sexual assault, stalking or harassment;
  • Order one or both parties to pay court costs or reasonable attorney's fees.

In both types of case, a permanent or final order of protection can also include any additional orders that the court considers necessary or appropriate.

In completing the complaint, the plaintiff must be certain to ask for all relief that he/she seeks.

Note: If the Court enters a Protection from Abuse order that prohibits the defendant from harassing, stalking or threatening the plaintiff, possession of a firearm and/or ammunition by the defendant may be a separate violation of state and federal law, even if the order itself does not prohibit firearm possession.

In addition, a parent's willful misuse of a Protection from Abuse process in order to gain tactical advantage in a divorce or paternity action may be considered by the court in that divorce or paternity action when deciding upon the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.

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