In general, domestic violence protective order laws establish who can file for an order, what protection or relief a person can get from such an order, and how the order will be enforced. While there are differences from state to state, all protective order statutes permit the court to order the abuser to stop hurting or threatening you ("cease abuse" provisions). The majority of states' orders can also instruct the abuser to stay away from you, your home, your workplace or your school ("stay away" provisions). You generally also can ask the court to order that all contact, whether by telephone, text messages, notes, mail, fax, email, through a third person, or delivery of flowers or gifts, is prohibited ("no contact" provisions).
Some statutes also allow the court to order the abuser to pay you temporary child support or continue to make mortgage payments on a home owned by both of you ("support" provisions), to award you sole use of a home or car owned by both of you ("exclusive use" provisions), or to pay you for medical costs or property damage caused by the abuser ("restitution" provisions).
When the abuser does something that the court has ordered him/her not to do, or fails to do something the court has ordered him/her to do, s/he may have violated the order. The victim can ask the police or the court, or both, depending on the violation, to enforce the order. The police can generally enforce the stay away, no contact, cease abuse, exclusive use, and possibly custody provisions - those that need immediate response. If you are unable to call them when the violation occurs, they should take a report if you call them soon afterwards. In some cases, it might result in a misdemeanor or felony criminal conviction and punishment. These types of violations can also later be addressed by the civil court, and it is often a good idea to bring them to the court's attention.
Other violations are not easily enforced by the police, such as failure to pay support or attend treatment programs - those are better enforced by the court. If you file a "motion for contempt" in the court that issued the order, explaining how the abuser violated the order, the court will hold a hearing to determine if the facts prove that the abuser violated the order. If the court finds a violation did occur, the judge will determine a penalty. Depending upon the laws of your jurisdiction and the nature of the violation, the penalty might be a finding of contempt, which could result in a fine, jail time or both. The violation might also be a reason for the order to be extended or modified in some way.
Attorney Vincent Landeros is located in Pasadena, California, and has a practice dedicated to assisting men and women throughout the Los Angeles County, San Gabriel Valley, San Bernardino County area in family law and divorce matters, including domestic violence protective orders.
He is a well-established attorney with more than 20 years' experience and an aptitude for devising innovative solutions to complex matters. Should your dispute escalate into child custody litigation, you will have a tough, aggressive litigator on your side. You can also count on Mr. Landeros to give you the accurate information and sound advice you need to make informed decisions about child custody and other legal issues.
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