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Civil Protection Orders in Family Law Cases
Under Colorado law, a person may obtain a civil protection order against another individual where that individual has:
– committed assaults or threatened bodily harm against the person;
– has committed domestic abuse against the person; or
– to prevent emotional abuse of the elderly or of an at-risk adult;
– to prevent sexual assault or abuse; and
– to prevent stalking.
C.R.S. § 13-14-104.5. Importantly, the civil protection order process is separate and distinct from a criminal action. That is, an individual does not need to report the activities forming the basis for the protection to the police in order to seek a civil protection order. See id. at (1)(b). Conversely, if there are criminal charges brought against the individual, the victim may still seek a civil protection order regardless of the criminal action.
When filing a civil protection order, the request for a protection order may be filed in almost any level of court: municipal court, country court, district court, probate court, or juvenile court. See id. at (1)(a).
Additionally, while the protection order request may be filed into almost any level of Colorado’s court system, the location of the court where it is filed must comport with venue requirements of the protection order statute. Specifically, the petition may be filed in “any county where the acts that are the subject of the motion or complaint occur, in any county where one of the parties resides, or in any county where one of the parties is employed.” Id. at (3).
Procedure after Filing a Civil Protection Order
Once a protection order is filed, a magistrate or judge may issue a temporary protection order where the magistrate or judge determines that an imminent danger exists to the person or persons to be protected, or where the protection order request consists of a signed and notarized statement that the offending individual has committed acts that would constitute grounds for a civil protection order. Id. at (8).
If a temporary protection order is issued, the protection order must direct that the offending individual show up at a later date and time to “show cause, if any, why the temporary civil protection order should not be made permanent.” This subsequent court date should be set within 14 days of when the temporary protection order is issued. If no temporary protection order is issued, then a court date will be set to determine if a protection order should be issued.
Once a request for protection order is filed or, if a temporary protection order is issued, it must be personally served on the offending individual, in conformance with Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 4, within 14 days after the request is filed or the temporary protection order is issued. Id. at 9.
Importantly, requests for protection orders may be filed for a person seeking protection for themselves, or for others as provided in C.R.S. § 26-3.1-102(1)(b) and (1)(c). See C.R.S. 13-14-104.5(8). Additionally, the Colorado Judicial Branch’s website provides forms and instructions for properly filing a request for a protection order and is available here.
At the return, or hearing date set by the court to determine whether a permanent protection order should be issued, the presiding judge or magistrate shall review the record and take evidence as necessary to determine whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, the offending individual “has committed acts constituting grounds for issuance of a civil protection order and that unless restrained will continue to commit such acts.” See C.R.S. § 13-14-106(1).
If the judge or magistrate determines that sufficient evidence does exist, then a permanent protection order will be issued restraining the offending individual from engaging in the offensive conduct. If sufficient evidence does not exist then a permanent protection order will not be issued and any temporary protection order previously issued will be allowed to expire.
Where a protection order is made permanent, the offending individual may not move to modify or dismiss the protection order for 2 years. See C.R.S. § 13-14-108. Conversely, the individual that requested the protection order may move for its modification or dismissal at any time. See id.
Miscellaneous Provisions of Protection Orders
Importantly, civil protection orders are separate and distinct from preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders. The former are designed to protect individuals from harmful and offensive contact while the latter are designed to stop injurious conduct from accumulating during the course of the lawsuit, for example, if a party is selling illegal goods.
Additionally, where there is an ongoing dissolution of marriage action – i.e., divorce – or other family law action that has been filed, the family law court may exercise jurisdiction over protection orders. That is, where a protection order has been entered or a protection order is being sought that involves the parties in the family law action, the protection order case can be transferred into the family law case such that the presiding judge has the authority to enforce, modify, or dismiss the protection order.
© 2016 J.D. Porter, LLC; Jordan Porter. Denver, Colorado.