1. What is the difference between an Ohio Civil Protection Order and a Restraining Order?
An Ohio Civil Protection Order is a civil filing, if the perpetrator has been indicted with a crime, there will be a criminal restraining order filed by the prosecutor. If you have filed for divorce, Franklin County Domestic Court has a mandatory restraining order that includes language about harassment. I will be discussing specifically Ohio Civil Protection Orders in this article. For more information about other kinds of restraining and protection orders, the City Attorney’s office has released this publication.

2. Where do I go to get a Civil Protection Order in Franklin County?
Ohio Civil Protection Orders (CPO’s) and Juvenile Protection Orders (JPO’s) are requested on the 6th floor of the Franklin County Courthouse, 373 South High Street. As you exit the elevator the CPO desk and a private area for consultation will be located down the hallway after you turn left. Once you arrive at the Protection Order area, a Liaison Clerk will guide you through filling out the necessary paperwork to request the order of protection from the court. This process takes about an hour. After you have completed the necessary paperwork, the Civil Protection Order liaison will direct you to the courtrooms to speak to a judge or magistrate.

The entire process takes a minimum of 2 hours, so try to arrive at the Clerk’s office before 3 pm. If you arrive after 3 pm, you request will not be processed until the next business day, due to the time it takes to fill out the forms, see a judge or magistrate and have the sheriff issue the order.

An ex-parte hearing (a hearing in which only you are present) will be held. If the judge finds reasonable cause, he/she will issue a temporary order commanding the respondent (the person you are asserting is causing or may cause you physical harm) to maintain a certain distance from you, vacate the shared residence, or other orders based on the specific needs of your case.

A copy of this order will be delivered to the Franklin County Sheriff’s office (or mailed to a sheriff’s department outside of Franklin County if that’s where the perpetrator is) who will attempt to serve a copy of the order to the respondent that same day. It is best if you provide a daytime address for the respondent to be served. This is where most CPOs have issues is with serving the respondent/perpetrator.

A full hearing where the respondent will be allowed to be present and give testimony will be set for seven to ten days after the petition is filed and the ex parte CPO is granted. The temporary ex parte Civil Protection Order will remain in effect until this hearing. At the final hearing, the judge will decide whether to put a full civil protection order into effect for up to five years.

3. Do I need a Lawyer to file for CPO?
No, the Ohio Civil Protection Order desk will help you file these forms, but you may want an family law attorney to advocate for you! Especially if you are facing down an abuser who is intimidating or knows how to twist your words and scare you. If you cannot afford an attorney, reach out to the Capital University Family Advocacy Clinic (645-6232), or Legal Aid (614-224-8374) to see if you qualify for pro bono representation.

4. What should I bring with me to my CPO hearing?
– Help the Judge Help you. It cannot be your word against theirs, the Judge is far more likely to grant a request for CPO if you have PROOF! Helpful evidence includes: Police reports, hospital records, photos of injuries, text messages or social media posts showing threats being made, voicemails with threatening language.

– DO NOT bring your phone in to court and expect the judge to scroll through your text messages or Facebook wall. Screen shot the text or post with the name of the perpetrator in the shot as well as the time and date if you can. Print off COLOR copies of your bruises and marks. BRING COPIES for the Judge to look at while you look at the same pictures, and a copy for a witness or the other party.

– BACK UP YOUR PHONE DATA TO THE CLOUD. In my experience the first thing that abusers and perpetrators go after is the victim’s phone. They usually try to break it to isolate the victim from their support system or ability to call for help, or they will break into the phone to erase evidence.

– DOWNLOAD A VOICE RECORDER TO YOUR PHONE. All iPhones with the most recent operating software installed have a built in voice memo app. Start opening that up every time the perpetrator is in your presence and begins their verbal abuse. Ohio is a one person consent state. So long as you are in the same room as the perpetrator, you can record the entire conversation/altercation. What you can’t do, is turn on the recording and leave the room. That is a violation of their rights.

5. Can I file a CPO for my children?
Of course. If someone is under the age of 18 they do not have standing to file motions in the Court. A parent must do so on their behalf. Even if you are filing a Civil Protection Order for yourself, you can add the children in. But you must demonstrate that the perpetrator is a threat not only to you but to them as well. This is a completely different burden to prove. I have been before judges with a mother who was holding her 1-year-old while her boyfriend shoved and spit on her, but because the child was not touched did not determine him to be in any danger from the perpetrator.

6. What does a CPO do?
– Direct the abuser to stop the abuse
– Grant possession of the residence or household to you and/or other family member, to the exclusion of the abuser; evict the abuser; or order the abuser to vacate the premises, or (if the abuser has the duty to support you) order the abuser to provide suitable, alternative housing;
– Award temporary custody and establish temporary custody orders with regard to minor children (if no other court has determined custody and visitation rights);
– Require the abuser to maintain support if the abuser customarily provides for or contributes to the support of the family or household, or if the abuser has a duty to support under the law;
– Require counseling;
– Require the abuser to refrain from entering the residence, school, business, or place of employment of the victim or other family members;
– Grant any other relief that the court considers fair, including, but not limited to, ordering the abuser to permit the use of a motor vehicle to the victim, and ordering a fair apportionment of household and family personal property.

7. CPO’s in a Divorce Case.
– If you are already in court for a divorce case, many Judges and attorneys will try to convince you to just accept the protection of the Mutual Restraining Order that must be filed in every Divorce case. This order is primarily to stop the sale of property and transfer of money. You have a choice and there is a difference between the protections and punishments of each. The punishment for breaking a CPO is criminal punishment and arrest, the punishment for violating the Mutual Restraining order is only handed down if you file a motion for contempt which costs you time and money that you may not have.

8. How long does a CPO last?
Shortest is usually 6 months, maximum is 5 years. CPOs can be renewed or extended for good cause shown. You will have to ask the court for a hearing to extend a Civil Protection Order.

9. Is a CPO granted in Franklin County valid in all counties? What about out of state?
The law states that protection orders issued anywhere in the State of Ohio are enforceable throughout the state – if they are current and still valid. Comparable protection orders issued in other states may also be valid in Ohio.

10. Where can I go for support?
There are many organizations whose sole purpose is to help survivors of domestic violence and their families. Here are the links to a few that I have worked with personally and trust:
– ODVN
– CHOICES
– OAESV
– BRAVO