Personal Protection Orders
Personal protection orders (PPOs) are designed to safeguard individuals from domestic violence or stalking. A PPO can protect individuals who are married or dating or who previously were married or dating or who have a child in common. Restrictions on certain behaviors or certain types of contact are frequently ordered in a PPO to provide safety and freedom from harassment at home or at work.
Petitioning for a Personal Protection Order
To obtain a personal protection order (PPO), our attorneys draft a petition that explains the dangers that have been experienced, to help you obtain safety. Your petition can be submitted in an ex parte manner, meaning without notice to the other party. Where there is a risk of immediate harm, it is common for PPO petitions to be filed ex parte so that notice itself does not precipitate the harm that is hoped to be avoided. Our attorneys are trauma informed and we will work closely with you to develop safety plans and to advise you on the available protections to keep you and your family’s safety at the forefront of decision making.
Once the Order is Issued
Whether or not a PPO is granted, either party may request a hearing. For the person under the restrictions of the protection order (the respondent), they may request a hearing to contest the need for a PPO, or to ask for changes to the terms of the PPO. Both parties are given the opportunity to present evidence about whether a PPO should continue, or whether a PPO should be issued or modified in some way. The person requesting the PPO (the petitioner) has the burden of proof as to whether it is appropriate for a PPO to be granted in such a hearing. The judge or referee deciding the matter will determine if there is reasonable cause to issue a personal protection order under the circumstances. The applicable burden of proof to obtain a PPO is the lowest threshold of proof required in Michigan because of the importance of safety and the liberty interests involved. Once the judge grants a personal protection order, it becomes effective immediately and is placed in the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN). After service of the PPO, if the respondent violates the PPO, it can be immediately enforced by law enforcement.
The intersection between personal protection orders and divorce and custody actions can be tricky to navigate. PPOs and parenting time schedules can sometimes conflict. While continuing to co-parent with a person subject to a PPO has its challenges, PPOs can be written in such a way to permit parenting exchanges through a third party or through community resources like the Safe Haven program through Child & Family Services. In addition, PPO provisions can be written to allow for parent communications through programs such as Our Family Wizard or other technological applications. Because the terms of a PPO trump the terms of a custody and parenting time order, there are occasions where it may be necessary to modify both the PPO and/or the parenting time order to achieve the ideal outcome for the interests involved.
At Wilson Kester – the Empowered Divorce Source, our attorneys are trained to empower our clients who experience domestic violence so that they may live in safety and are empowered to effectively co-parent, free from harassment. We are here to help you navigate the intersection of a PPO and your divorce so that you and your children can move forward in a safe and emotionally healthy way.