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Know the Laws: Minnesota

UPDATED August 11, 2014

Orders for Protection

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An order for protection is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family or household member.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic abuse in MN?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting an order for protection.

In Minnesota, domestic abuse is defined as:

  • Physical harm, bodily injury, assault (such as hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, stabbing, choking, burning) between family or household members,
  • Making a family or household member afraid of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault. This includes threats of physical harm or assault.
  • Terrorist threats, such as threats to commit a crime of violence, bomb threats or brandishing a firearm.
  • Criminal sexual conduct committed against a family or household member by another family or household member (such as forced intercourse or forced sexual contact; or intercourse or any other form of sexual contact with a minor).
  • Interference with an emergency call. This includes preventing someone from calling 911 or other emergency phone numbers or interrupting/ending an emergency call.*
To read the exact wording of the statute, please see Subd. 2. Definitions. on the MN Statutes page.

* Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(2)

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back to topWhat types of orders for protection are available? How long do they last?

There are two types of orders for protection: ex parte orders and full orders.  However, unlike most other states, Minnesota does not necessarily require that a hearing be held with both parties present before issuing a long-term order.  Minnesota law allows a judge to issue a long-term order on your first court date and then it is up to the respondent/abuser to fill out paperwork to request a hearing to object to the order.

When you go to court to file for an order for protection, a judge will give you an ex parte temporary order of protection if s/he finds that there is an immediate and present danger of domestic abuse and you need immediate protection.*  "Ex parte" means that the abuser is not notified beforehand or present in court - the judge will make this decision based only on the information you provide.  An ex parte order will be effective for a fixed period set by the court and can generally last for up to two years or until modified or vacated by the judge after a hearing.*1 Once you've been granted an ex parte order, you do not need to return to court for a full hearing unless:

  1. You request a hearing to ask the judge for additional protection than what can be granted with an ex parte order;
  2. The judge decides not to grant you all of the protection that you asked for in the ex parte order; or
  3. The abuser requests a hearing once s/he is served with your ex parte order. 
Note: If a hearing is ordered based on reasons #1 or #2, above, the hearing will be held within 7 days.  If the hearing is ordered based on reason #3, above, it will be held within 10 days of when the court receives his/her request (although either side may request a continuance in any of the circumstances).  The court will notify you of the hearing by mail*2 and you would need to go to the hearing in order to present evidence as to why the order should continue.  If the judge does not grant you an ex parte order, the hearing for a full order for protection will be scheduled within 14 days.*3 

If there is a court hearing for a full order for protection, both parties (you and the abuser) should have a chance to present evidence, testimony, witnesses, etc. to prove why the order should/should not be issued. The order can last for up to two years, but you may petition to have it extended if you need further protection once the order expires.*4

If the abuser has violated a prior or existing order for protection on two or more occasions, or if you have been granted two or more orders for protection against the abuser, the judge can grant a full order for up to 50 years.*5  If after five years there have been no violations of the order, the abuser may ask the judge to modify (change) the order by proving there has been a significant change in circumstances.*6

* Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(7)(a)
*1 Minn. Stat. §§ 518B.01(7)(c); 518B.01(6)(b)
*2 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(5)(b)-(e)
*3 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(5)(a)
*4 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(7)
*5 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)(a)
*6 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(11)(b)

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back to topHow can an order for protection help me?

You can be granted the following protections in an ex parte order of protection:

  • Ordering the abuser not to abuse you or your minor children;
  • Ordering the abuser to be removed from the home that you share and that s/he stay away from a reasonable area surrounding the shared home or your own home;Order the abuser to stay away from your place of work;
  • Ordering the abuser not to contact you, either in person, by telephone, mail, email or other electronic devices, or through another person (a "third party");
  • Ordering that any insurance coverage currently available to you remain unchanged (in other words, if you get health insurance through the abuser's work, s/he won't be able to remove you from the insurance plan);
  • Giving either of you possession or control of a pet or companion animal owned, possessed, or kept by you, the abuser or a child of you or the abuser and ordering the abuser to not physically abuse the animal.*
If you get an order for protection that is issued after the respondent/abuser is given notice and the chance to appear in court at a hearing, you can get the following protections as part of a full order of protection:
  • Ordering all of the ex parte protections listed above;
  • Awarding you temporary custody of your children and/or establishing temporary parenting time giving primary consideration to the safety of you and your children; Note: The judge can restrict parenting time as to the time, place, duration, or supervision, or deny parenting time completely if necessary to protect the safety of you and your children;
  • Establish temporary child support and/or spousal support;
  • Provide counseling or other social services for you and the respondent (if you are married or if you have minor children together);
  • Order the abuser to participate in treatment or counseling services;
  • Award you temporary use and possession of property that you share with the abuser, such as a car;
  • Order neither party to sell, damage or get rid of property, or to use it as the basis for a loan;
  • Order the abuser to pay restitution to you (i.e., to compensate you for your medical bills and/or lost income as a result of the abuse); and
  • Order any other relief thta is necessary to protect you and your children, including ordering the sheriff or other law enforcement to act in a certain way (for example, to accompany you to the home to get your belongings).**

Whether or not a judge orders any, or all of the above, depends on the facts of your case.

* Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(7)(a)
** Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)(a)

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

You can file for an order of protection in any county where either you or the abuser lives, where the abuse happened, or where there is/was a family court proceeding involving you and the abuser or a child you have with the abuser (for example, a custody/visitation case).*

* Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(3)

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