St. Louis Adult Order of Protection Lawyer
Petition for Order of Protection – Adult
If you have been physically abused by your spouse, someone you reside with, or have a child with, you may want to file and Order of Protection in a St. Louis, Missouri family law court. In addition, if you have been physically abused, threatened, or caused to be put in fear, in addition to contacting the police you may want to file for an Order of Protection.
Missouri Law also allows a person to obtain an Order of Protection against a non-related person for stalking. “Stalking” is defined as purposely and repeatedly harassing, or following with the intent of harassing another adult. To be guilty of stalking, there must be a pattern of conduct or series of acts that serve no legitimate purpose other than to harass a particular individual. Consult with a Missouri family law attorney for more information about Orders of Protection for stalking.
Each county in Missouri has their own procedure for filing an Order of Protection. Typically the Order of Protection can be entered in the county where the abuse occurred or in the county where the victim resides. In the St. Louis County Courthouse, there is a special room, designated solely for the purpose of obtaining Orders of Protection.
You will first need to obtain the forms for filing the Petition for Ex Parte Order of Protection. In St. Louis, MO, you may obtain the necessary forms from the Adult Abuse office at the St. Louis County courthouse or from a Saint Louis, Missouri Order of Protection attorney. An Ex Parte Order of Protection means that a Judge can enter a temporary Order based on the allegations contained in your petition without having a hearing and giving notice to the other person. An ex parte order of protection is available upon a showing that any immediate and present danger of future abuse exists.
Temporary relief available under the Adult Abuse Act includes:
- Restraining the respondent from abusing, threatening to abuse, molesting, or disturbing the peace of the petitioner;
- Restraining the respondent from entering the premises of the dwelling unit of petitioner when the dwelling unit is:
- Jointly owned, leased, or rented and jointly occupied by both parties;
- Owned, leased, or rented by petitioner individually;
- Jointly owned, leased, or rented by petitioner and a person other than respondent; or
- Generally occupied by the petitioner and a person other than the respondent, provided, however, that the respondent has no property interest in the dwelling unit.
- Issuing a temporary order of custody of minor children, where appropriate.
After an Ex Parte Order of Protection is entered, a hearing on the Full Order is typically set within two weeks, to give the Respondent (the person you are filing the Order of Protection against) a chance to appear before the Judge and present their side of the story. A St. Louis, MO Order of Protection Attorney will be able to help you. At the hearing on the Full Order of Protection, if the Court finds that the allegations have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence at a hearing, the court shall issue a full Order of Protection. A Judge may enter a Full Order 6 months or even a year. The full Order may include provisions which temporarily enjoin the Respondent from abusing, threatening to abuse, molesting, stalking, or disturbing the peace of the Petitioner (the victim), and temporarily enjoin the respondent from entering the home of Petitioner.
Protection for Victims of Abuse
A St. Louis Order of Protection attorney can help you get additional relief in the Full Order of Protection. This includes things like child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (also known as alimony) if the parties are married, order Respondent to pay the mortgage, utilities or other marital bills, order the Respondent to pay attorneys’ fees and costs, and order Respondent to attend counseling or a program for batterers.
Missouri Orders of Protection are designed to protect victims of abuse. Because people going through a divorce sometimes misuse this process to try and get a leg up in the divorce, some Judges are reluctant to enter an Order of Protection when there is a divorce pending. Again, you should talk to an experienced St. Louis, MO Order of Protection attorney who is familiar with the Judges in your county for more advice regarding when to file an Order of Protection.
As part of an Order of Protection, the court may establish a visitation schedule which is in the child’s best interests. The court shall grant to the non-custodial parent visitation unless there is a specific finding, after a hearing, that visitation would endanger the child’s physical health, impair his emotional development, or would otherwise conflict with the best interest of the child. A court could find that there should be no visitation which can be arranged which would sufficiently protect the custodial parent from abuse.
Even though the Court has the authority to enter a temporary custody and visitation schedule as part of an adult Order of Protection, if the children have been abused or you are in fear for the children’s safety, then you should also talk to a family law attorney about filing a Child Order of Protection on behalf of your child. If you have any further questions, please call Saint Louis, Missouri Order of Protection Attorney Tonya Page. She can be reached at (314) 322-8515 or via our contact form.