Domestic Personal Protection Orders

Entitlement to a Domestic Personal Protection Order

A domestic personal protection order (PPO) applies to all cases wherein the parties had some type of domestic relationship, and where a party can show that they are fearful that the other party may act violently against them. This is not limited to spouses and ex-spouses, but can include roommates, past roommates, someone with whom the petitioner has a child in common, regardless of whether they ever resided together or not, and someone with whom the petitioner had a dating relationship, regardless of whether or not they ever resided together. The procedures and requirements for obtaining a domestic PPO are set forth in MCL 600.2950.

When a Personal Protection Order May be Sought

A PPO can be sought in order to prohibit many different types of violent and/or threatening acts and behaviors on the part of the respondent. These acts are set forth in MCL 600.2950(1), and include:

(a) Entering onto premises.

(b) Assaulting, attacking, beating, molesting, or wounding a named individual.

(c) Threatening to kill or physically injure a named individual.

(d) Removing minor children from the individual having legal custody of the children, except as otherwise authorized by a custody or parenting time order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(e) Purchasing or possessing a firearm.

(f) Interfering with petitioner’s efforts to remove petitioner’s children or personal property from premises that are solely owned or leased by the individual to be restrained or enjoined.

(g) Interfering with petitioner at petitioner’s place of employment or education or engaging in conduct that impairs petitioner’s employment or educational relationship or environment.

(h) Having access to information in records concerning a minor child of both petitioner and respondent that will inform respondent about the address or telephone number of petitioner and petitioner’s minor child or about petitioner’s employment address.

(i) Engaging in conduct that is prohibited under the stalking statutes.

(j) Any other specific act or conduct that imposes upon or interferes with personal liberty or that causes a reasonable apprehension of violence.

A PPO can be filed in the circuit court of any county in the state of Michigan, regardless of where either party resides. Oftentimes, people in abusive relationships need to flee in order to escape the abuser. Because of this need, the statues have lifted the general requirement regarding residency in filing this type of action.

Based upon the facts alleged in the petition filed by the petitioner, the court must grant the PPO if it finds reasonable cause to believe that the respondent might commit one of the prohibited acts listed above. In supporting his or her request, the petitioner must include in the petition specific incidents of abuse, threats, or other prohibited behaviors, and should also describe any resulting injuries, both physical and emotional.

Ex Parte Personal Protection Orders

A petitioner can request that a PPO be granted on an ex parte basis, that is, without prior notice to the respondent and without a hearing. In order to do so, however, the petitioner must demonstrate that:

Immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result from the delay required to effectuate notice or that the notice will itself precipitate adverse action before the PPO can be issued.

MCL 600.2950(12).

If the PPO is granted without a hearing, the Respondent will have the right to ask the court to hold a hearing and subsequently terminate the PPO. In order to do so, however, the respondent must file the Motion to Terminate within 14 days of being served with the PPO.

The Process for Seeking a Personal Protection Order

According to MCR 3.705(A)(1), a petition for a PPO must be addressed and ruled on by the court within 24 hours of being filed. The Court may either grant the PPO on an ex parte basis, set the matter for hearing, or deny the request with notice of the right to request a hearing to the petitioner.

Unlike most other orders, a PPO is effective and enforceable upon entry, regardless of whether or not the respondent has yet been served with the PPO. Before the respondent can be held in contempt for violating the terms of a PPO, however, he or she must be given notice of the PPO and be given appropriate opportunity to correct or otherwise cease the violation.

Mutual PPOs are not permitted, even if the parties agree or consent to the entry of mutual PPOs, according to MCL 600.2950(8). Rather, both parties must petition and meet the requirements for entry of separate and individual orders.

PPOs in Divorce and Child Custody Cases

The entry of a PPO can have very serious ramifications on existing divorce and custody cases. According to MCR 3.706(C)(3), a PPO trumps or overrides any preexisting custody or parenting time order. If the respondent of a PPO has custody or parenting time of a minor child that would be adversely affected by the PPO, the circuit court must consider this when issuing the PPO, and must determine whether the respondent’s rights can be accommodated by conditions of the PPO, or whether the safety and well-being of the petitioner and/or the minor child warrant infringement on these rights.

Due to these serious ramifications, many domestic judges are extremely leery and hesitant to enter PPOs when a divorce or custody action is also pending between the same parties, especially on an ex parte basis, except in the most extreme and clear cut cases. The overriding concern is that one party may be using the PPO system as a way to prevent the other party from maintaining a relationship with the children, and thus gain a perceived advantage in the custody case.

In order to address this concern, many judges automatically require a hearing to be held so that a proper determination can be made, with the participation of both parties, as to whether a PPO is appropriate, or even necessary.