Using Civil Protection Orders for Custody in DC

Ada Chan Civil Protection Orders

Using Civil Protection Orders for Custody in DC
People split up everyday – its a part of life.  What is not part of life is when your significant other or family member takes out a Temporary Protective Order with all kinds of false allegations of abuse.   In the District of Columbia there are essentially 2 types of protection order you can get from the court.  Temporary (ex parte) Protection Orders
A temporary protection order can be issued the day that you file your petition without the abuser being present in court – (this is what is meant by an ex parte order).  The judge can give you this temporary order if the judge believes that the safety or welfare of you or your household memberis in immediate danger from the abuser.* In addition, the petition asks for child custody, child and spousal support, stay away from practically everywhere you frequent, etc.  Does it sound familiar? What do you do next?  Fight it?  Or just cut the loss and agree to the relief sought in the petition?  What are the legal consequences of a Protection Order?  Will it affect your employment opportunities?  Can the world now google the specifics of your case on the internet, DC Superior Court website (which by the way, it’s  Should you hire a lawyer?  What can a lawyer do that you can’t do on your own?
Unfortunately, the system of justice does make it pretty easy to file for a Civil Protection Order.  After all, it only takes a trip to the courthouse and an hour of paperwork filling, and you can get a temporary (ex parte) order to have someone stay away from you for up to 14 days.  Since it’s ex parte (one side only), false allegations of abuse may be made.  At the hearing, you will have an opportunity to defend yourself against the allegations contained in the petition.  Some unscrupulous lawyers and/or petitioners will file for restraining orders because it’s a quick way to get custody of the children without a hearing (yes, this CAN happen), and it could be used as a divorce tool to maximize child support and alimony.
One thing that often comes up in Civil Protection Order is that it could potentially be connected to a criminal case. E.g. violation of a TPO/CPO.  It’s important to note that you should NEVER attempt to reconcil with your spouse/partner/sibling, etc. after a restraining order has been filed.  Even something as simple as an I’m sorry note or flower delivery violates the order & will land you in JAIL. That is why it is so important for you to become informed. There are too many mistakes like this waiting to happen. Even if there is no companion criminal case, sometimes it is easier to come to a resolution of a CPO when you are represented by counsel.  More importantly, if you choose to fight your case, you should have an attorney who will consult, investigate, and prepare your case for trial. The relief granted to a CPO petitioner may have lasting impact on you.  So proceed with caution and with solid legal advice from a lawyer.
If you have been served with a TPO, call Rollins & Chan for a free phone consultation.  202-455-5610.