Orders of Protection are not to be taken lightly. There are many ways an Order of Protection can affect your life.
In Arizona, Orders of Protection are governed by the Arizona Rules of Protective Order Procedures. An Order of Protection is sought when someone feels they are in danger of being physically harmed or have been physically harmed by another person. The other person must have had some type of relationship with the person they are seeking the order against. There are many relationships the parties could share or have shared in the past giving rise to a need for an Order. These relationships could include former lovers, relationship through marriage or blood, residing together, or having a child in common.
In order to get an Order of Protection, the Plaintiff (requesting party) needs to go to Court and file a Petition for the Order of Protection. The Petition could be filed with a municipal or justice court in places like Mesa, Glendale, or Scottsdale, or in the Superior Court in Phoenix. The Court will consider the Petition for Order of Protection and can grant the Order based solely upon what the Plaintiff says.
Once the Order is granted, it is served on the defendant (other party). At that point, the Defendant has the right to contest the Order of Protection. If a hearing is requested, both parties need to appear in the Court and the judge will decide whether the Order should be kept in place, modified, or dismissed. This is a crucial point in the case. If an Order is not defended or contested properly, it could have lasting implications on you.
What could that mean for you if the Order is issued against you, or upheld against you after a hearing?
Orders of Protection are likely to show up on background checks run by potential employers, preventing you from obtaining certain jobs. An Order of Protection could also get you terminated from your current position or reassigned to other duties within a company or government office. Orders of Protection prevent you from possessing a firearm and, if you already own one, force you to relinquish it. The Court could also order the exclusive use of a common residence to the Plaintiff.
The Order may also limit your ability to see or communicate with children, and that could also have an effect on any other pending family court cases. Orders of Protection cannot list a child unless the judicial officer believes that “physical harm has resulted or may result to the child, or the alleged acts of domestic violence involved the child,” but the weight that the judge gives to allegations in protective order hearings is often greater than what would be given in other types of cases.
Under emergency circumstances, a judge may err on the side of caution and enter a child on a temporary basis even with a minimal allegation of danger. This is a small consolation because in the end an Order of Protection could affect permanent parenting time and legal decision-making.
Although many parties proceed without representation in Order of Protection hearings, the severe consequences of having an Order entered against you may justify retaining an attorney. Even though the Order is temporary, its impact can last a lifetime.