A person at risk of domestic violence or stalking can seek a personal protection order (PPO) from the circuit court. A PPO is an injunctive order restraining a person and prohibiting them from engaging in certain behavior(s). We help Oakland County individuals with filing for a PPO, or with fighting to set aside a PPO–almost on a daily basis. Contact us online or call (248) 479-6200 today for assistance.
Different rules apply to the issuance of a PPO depending on the relationship between the parties involved. There are special rules that apply if one party is a minor. There are many components involved in the issuance of a PPO and they vary based on the type issued. To help you understand the process we have provided a quick overview of the types of PPOs in Michigan, the procedures for filing or setting aside a PPO, the possible conditions of a PPO, and the enforcement of PPOs. The intricacies surrounding PPOs are numerous, and you should consult with an experienced attorney for more information if you believe someone may be seeking a PPO against you, if you wish to seek one yourself, or you need help fighting a PPO.
Types of Personal Protection Orders in Michigan
The parties in a personal protection action are referred to as the petitioner and the respondent. The petitioner is the person seeking the PPO and the respondent is the individual the petitioner seeks to stop with a PPO. There are three types of PPOs, and which type of PPO is issued depends on the relationship between the petitioner and the respondent.
(1) A domestic relationship personal protection order is available when the respondent and the petitioner are or have been in a relationship of some type, including marriage, dating, and any type of co-habitating. They are also available when the two parties have a child together. The domestic relationship PPO restrains behavior that interferes with the petitioner’s personal liberty, or that causes a reasonable apprehension of violence.
(2) A non-domestic stalking personal protection order enjoins a person from engaging in stalking, aggravated stalking, or cyber-stalking regardless of that person’s relationship with the petitioner.
(3) A non-domestic sexual assault personal protection order is available to victims of sexual assault, victims who have received obscene material, and petitioners who have been placed in reasonable apprehension of sexual assault by the respondent.
Procedures for Obtaining a Personal Protection Order
In order to obtain any type of personal protection order, you must file a petition with the circuit court. This petition must be in writing, state the facts on which it is based, the relief sought and the conduct to be restrained, whether an ex parte order is being sought, whether a PPO involving the same parties has been commenced in another jurisdiction, and it must be signed by the petitioner or their attorney. You can omit your residence address from the documents filed with the court, but you must provide a mailing address.
A personal protection order petition can be filed ex parte. When a motion is filed ex parte it means that the trial court will decide whether or not to issue a PPO without the respondent being aware of the motion. This allows a petitioner who is afraid for their safety, and concerned that the respondent will harass them for filing the petition, to address the issue without their knowledge or presence. It also allows the petitioner to bring the petition quickly if they are concerned with immediate harm. If a hearing must be held and the petition was not filed ex parte, the hearing must take place no more than 21 days after the petition is filed. In the event that a PPO was issued ex parte, the order must be served on the respondent after it is issued by the court.
The State Court Administrative Office and many counties have standard forms that can be used to petition for a PPO. While these standard forms exist, if you are concerned you may wish to seek additional legal assistance.
How Do I Challenge A Personal Protection Order?
If a respondent wishes to set aside an ex parte personal protection order, the party must ask the court to change or terminate the PPO by filing a motion and requesting a hearing within 14 days of learning about the order. The hearing to fight the PPO must be held within 21 days of the filing of the responsive motion. The motion must state why the PPO should be changed or terminated (set aside). A respondent who feels the PPO was improperly granted may wish to fight a PPO because of the negative impacts a personal protection order against them can have on their professional and social life, custody disputes, or simply the restraint on individual liberty. A PPO is a public record, and its existence is not confidential. There are standard forms to challenge a PPO, but given the serious nature of the consequences, anyone who wishes to set aside a PPO would be wise to consult with an attorney.
If the court issues a personal protection order then the respondent will be prohibited from particular conduct. The exact conduct the personal protection order prohibits depends on the type of PPO issued. For example:
(1) a domestic relations PPO may prohibit the respondent from entering the petitioner’s home or work; assaulting, attacking, beating, molesting, or wounding the petitioner or another named individual; threatening to kill or physically injure the petitioner or another named individual; removing the petitioner’s minor children unless otherwise authorized by a proper court order; buying or possessing a firearm; interfering with the petitioner’s attempts to remove their children or personal property from a place the respondent owns or leases; interfering with the petitioner at their job or school; acting in a way that harms the petitioner’s job or school relationships; from having access to the petitioner’s home and work address, from having access to petitioner’s telephone number contained in records that concern a child in common; stalking the petitioner; or any other specific act or conduct that imposes upon or interferes with personal liberty or that causes a reasonable apprehension of violence. A petitioner can request additional prohibitions appropriate under the circumstances, however the ultimate conclusion as to the prohibited conditions is up to the court.
(2) In contrast, a non-domestic stalking PPO is more limited in scope and prohibited behavior. Generally, a respondent may be prohibited from following the petitioner; appearing in the petitioner’s sight; appearing and approaching the petitioner on both public and private property; following the petitioner; being present on property that the petitioner owns, leases, or occupies; contacting the petitioner by phone, mail, e-mail, or text message; placing objects on or delivering them to property that the petitioner owns, leases, or occupies; buying or possessing a firearm; or any other stalking behaviors the court determines need to be prevented.
(3) A non-domestic sexual assault PPO will prohibit similar things such as prohibiting the respondent from entering the petitioner’s home; threatening to sexually assault, kill, or injure the petitioner or another listed person; buying or possessing a firearm; interfering with the removal of the petitioner’s children or personal property from property the respondent owns or leases; interfering with the petitioner’s place of work or school; acting in a way that harms the petitioner’s employment or school relationships; following the petitioner and / or appearing within their sight; approaching or confronting them whether on public or private property; appearing at their work or home; placing objects or delivering them to property the petitioner owns, leases, or occupies; contacting the petitioner by phone, mail, e-mail, text messages, or electronic message; and any other specific act or behavior that interferes with the petitioner’s personal freedom or makes them reasonably afraid of something violent will happen.
Enforcement and Violations of a Personal Protection Order
In order for a personal protection order to be effective it must be enforced. If the respondent violates the terms of the PPO the petitioner should immediately inform law enforcement. They may also file a motion to show cause with the court asking the court to punish the respondent for violating the court’s order.
Personal protection orders are enforceable for a set period of time and are enforceable anywhere in Michigan immediately upon being issued by the court. The PPO can also be enforced in other states. This will be indicated on the order issued by the court.
If a respondent violates the terms of a PPO they may be subject to arrest and charged with criminal contempt, thus facing both fines and jail time for violating the PPO. The violation can also factor into a divorce or child custody proceeding.
We Can Help
If you are concerned and are in need of a personal protection order, we can help you understand the law and what it takes to file. If you have had a PPO filed against you and want to set aside the PPO, we can help with that too. We help both respondents and petitioners every day.