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Know the Laws: Ohio

UPDATED April 28, 2017

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

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A protection order is a civil order that provides protection from harm or the threat of harm by a family or household member.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic violence in Ohio?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a protection order.  Domestic violence is when a family or household member does any of the following:

* Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(A)(1)
** Ohio Rev. Code § 2151.031(D)

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back to topWhat kinds of protection orders are there in Ohio? How long do they last?

There are two kinds of protection orders in Ohio.  A temporary ex parte protection order can be granted the same day you file your petition in order to give you immediate protection from the abuser.  The judge can grant the ex parte order if there is "good cause" to do so.  Immediate danger of domestic violence can count as good cause to grant a temporary ex parte order, which includes, but is not limited to:

  1. situations in which the respondent has threatened you with bodily harm or a sexually oriented offense; or
  2. a situation in which the respondent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a domestic violence crime against you (including a juvenile adjudication for a domestic violence crime).*

An ex parte order will last until the hearing for your civil protection order, which generally takes places within 7 to 10 days.**

A civil protection order (CPO) can be issued after a hearing is held where the abuser has the opportunity to appear in court (even if s/he chooses not to appear).  A CPO can last up to 5 years but if the respondent (abuser) is under age 18 when the order is issued against him/her, the order can only last until s/he turns 19 (unless it is renewed/extended).***  However, if the CPO includes a provision for temporary custody/visitation and/or an order of support, those terms may end earlier than the 5 years if either parent files for divorce, legal separation, or allocation of parental rights and responsibilities and a judge in that court case makes an order for custody/visitation or support.****

* Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(D)(1)
** Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(D)(2)
*** Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(E)(3)(a),(c)

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back to topHow can a protection order help me?

An ex parte or final protection order may:

  • Order the abuser to refrain from abusing, harassing, and annoying you;
  • Order the abuser to have no contact with you or your children;
  • Keep the abuser from entering your home, school, business or place of employment, or those of your children;
  • Evict the abuser and award you possession of the residence, even if the residence is owned by the abuser;
  • Award you custody of your child;
  • Require the abuser to pay you monthly support;
  • Require the abuser to pay rent, mortgage, and/or utility payments;
  • Require the abuser to see a counselor;
  • Order that the respondent not remove, damage, hide, harm, or get rid of any companion animal owned or possessed by you (and the judge can allow you to remove your companion animal from the possession of the abuser);
  • Grant you use of motor vehicle and other possessions;*
  • Directing a wireless service provider  to transfer the rights to, and billing responsibility for, any wireless service (cell phone) number(s) that you or any minor children in your case use if you are not already the account holder;** and/or
  • Grant any other relief that the court considers reasonable and fair.*

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

* Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(E)(1)
** Ohio Rev. Code §§ 3113.31(E)(1)(k), 3113.451

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back to topIn which county can I file for a protection order?

You can file a petition in any of the following counties:

  • where the respondent (abuser) lives or has his/her principal place of business;
  • where the respondent (abuser) committed the acts of domestic violence; or
  • the county in which you currently or temporarily live.*
However, if you are temporarily living in a different county and trying to keep your address confidential, filing in that county would likely not be a good idea since it would alert the abuser to the fact that you are living in that county.

* See Ohio R. Civ. P. Rule 3(B); see the Ohio Legal Services website


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back to topHow much does it cost to get, modify, dismiss, or serve an order? Do I need a lawyer?

You cannot be charged any fee or cost in connection with filing for a protection order, which includes filing your petition, getting an order issued, registering the order, modifying the order, enforcing the order or even dismissing/withdrawing the order.  You also cannot be charged anything to have the order served by law enforcement, to request a witness subpoena from the judge for a hearing, or to get a certified copy of your order.*

However, the court can make the respondent (abuser) pay costs in connection with any of the above-mentioned actions.**

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for a protection order, it may be to your advantage to seek legal counsel, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, you may want to contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.  If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance and domestic violence agencies on the OH Where to Find Help page.  Staff at domestic violence agencies in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms. 

* Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(J)(1)
** Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(J)(2)

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