Family Law Protection Orders

Protection orders are a method for preventing contact between people. If a person feels threatened by someone, he or she can request a protection order from the court and the person against whom the order is filed is banned from coming within a certain distance of the protected person or from performing certain acts, such as contacting the protected person. Orders of protection are especially common in cases of spousal or child abuse. In Colorado, the statutes governing protection orders pertaining to domestic matters and are listed in C.RS. § 13-14-104.5, 13-14-106, and 13-14-203.

§ 13-14-104.5 Procedure for Temporary Civil Protection Order

In most cases, protection orders are temporary. The order prevents contact between people engaged in an ongoing dispute, so fewer issues arise during uncontrolled interaction. Permanent protection orders might be put into place to prevent future contact, but initially, a protection order is for a specific period of time. In order for the court to approve a protection order, the requestor must show an act of abuse or threat of abuse has occurred, and without a protection order there is imminent danger to the life or health of the requestor and/or the requestor’s children.

Any municipal court of record, any county court, or any district, probate, or juvenile court has the authority to issue a civil protection order against an adult or juvenile 10 years or older to prevent:

• Repeated acts or threatened assault
• Domestic abuse
• Emotional abuse of an elderly or at-risk adult
• Sexual assault or abuse
• Stalking

To determine if imminent danger exists to the life or health of someone, the court considers all relevant evidence concerning the safety and protection of the person requesting the order. An order cannot be denied based on the length of time between an act of abuse or threat of harm and a request for a protection order. Protection orders can also be issued in the name of a business entity if a threat of imminent danger exists to that business’ employees. In addition to the civil order of protection, the court may order any other relief deemed appropriate, such as financial compensation. Complaints may be filed by persons seeking protection for themselves or for others, such as your children.

Requesting a civil protection order does not require you to have reported an act to law enforcement, filed charges, or be participating in the prosecution of a criminal matter. Once an order is requested, the court moves quickly to schedule a hearing and the request takes precedence over other matters. The statute also allows for a divorcing spouse to request a protection order under the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act in the divorce case.

If a civil order of protection prevents someone from entering a shared residence, that person is permitted to return to the residence one time to gather his or her belongings. In order to return, he or she must be accompanied by law enforcement. The information regarding the details of a return to a shared residence must be clearly listed in the protection order in bold print.

Violating a protection order is a civil offense. Punishment for doing so varies, but can include fines and jail time. In Colorado, violating an order is a class 2 misdemeanor unless there is a prior conviction or other orders in place.

§ 13-14-106 Procedure for Permanent Civil Protection Orders

It is possible for a temporary civil order of protection to become permanent. In order for this to occur the judge examines evidence and if the protected person or persons is at risk or feels intimidated or retaliated against, the judge can determine whether to make the temporary civil protection order permanent.

If a civil order of protection is not made permanent, it might be extended for up to a year or may be continued to a later date. For this to happen, both parties must be present at the hearing and agree to the continuance.

Additionally, either party can request one continuance for a period not to exceed fourteen days, which the judge can grant if there is good cause. The respondent must be told a violation of the temporary civil protection order constitutes a criminal offense or contempt of court, prior to granting a continuance. If an order of protection was requested as part of divorce proceedings, the court might continue the temporary protection order until the time of the final decree or final disposition, as long as both parties agree.

§ 13-14-203 Jurisdiction to Modify Determination

Modifying a civil protection order is possible, provided Colorado has jurisdiction. A protection order is valid in every state, even if you got the protection order in a different state. It is recommended that you refer to the statute or contact an attorney to determine whether you have jurisdiction in Colorado to modify a protection order.

Notifying Law Enforcement

In most cases, once a protection order is filed, the local law enforcement agency is notified. This ensures law enforcement is aware of the protection order and any potential problems that could arise in relation to the order, and will help you enforce it.

Protection orders might not be the answer to all of your problems if you are in an abusive relationship, but they can help. A protection order puts law enforcement on alert and lets the other party know that you have taken serious action to prevent contact. If you have questions about protection orders or you would like to speak with someone about your specific situation, contact Montgomery Little & Soran, PC at 303-773-8100.