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Know the Laws: Minnesota

UPDATED September 24, 2012

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 is an order for protection (OFP)?

An order for protection is a paper that is signed by a judge and tells an abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences.  It offers civil legal protection from domestic violence to both women and men victims.

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back to topWhat types of orders for protection are available?

There are two types of orders for protection.

Ex Parte Order for Protection

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.*1  "Ex parte" means that the judge will make this decision based only on the information you provide, without the abuser being in court.

An ex parte order will generally last for up to two years but it may be longer.*2  Once you've been granted an ex parte order, you don't need to return to court for a full hearing unless:
  • You request a hearing to ask the judge for additional protection;
  • The judge decides not to grant you all of the protection that you asked for in the ex parte order;
  • The abuser requests a hearing once he is served with your ex parte order.  Note: if the abuser requests a hearing it will usually be set within 10 days of his request.  The court will notify you of the hearing by mail.*3
You can be granted the following protections in an ex parte order of protection:
  • Order the abuser not to abuse you or your minor children;
  • Order the abuser to be removed from and stay away from the home where you both live, or the place where you are currently staying;
  • Order the abuser to stay away from your place of work;
  • Order the abuser not to contact you, either in person, by telephone, mail, email or other electronic devices, or through another person;
  • Order that any insurance coverage currently available to you remain unchanged (in other words, if you get health insurance through the abuser's work, he won't be able to remove you from the insurance plan).*4
Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

Full Order for Protection

If the judge decides not to grant you an ex parte order, you will have a court hearing for a full order for protection will be scheduled within 14 days.*5

Full orders for protection are only issued after a full court hearing where both parties (you and the abuser) have a chance to tell their side of the story. 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.*6

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 the order for up to 50 years.*7  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.*8

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

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back to topHow can an order for protection help me?

An OFP can offer a number of protections to you and your children. It may:

  • Restrain the abuser from committing acts of domestic abuse.
  • Order the abuser to leave the house you share together.
  • Prohibit the abuser from going near your residence or place of employment.
  • Order no contact, which can include no contact in person, by telephone, letter or through a third party.
  • Award you temporary custody of the children.
  • Establish temporary financial support for the children or yourself.
  • Provide counseling or other social services for you and the respondent.
  • 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 property, damage property, or use it for a loan.
  • Order the abuser to compensate your medical bills and/or lost income as a result of the abuse.
  • Order the sheriff to go with the woman to the house to remove the abuser or to help recover property.
  • Ensure continuance of all currently available insurance coverage.
  • Order who will have possession of a pet or companion animal that is owned or kept by you, the respondent or your child;
  • Order the respondent to not physically abuse or injure any pet or companion animal that is owned or kept by you, the respondent or by a child living in the home of either party; and
  • Order other relief as deemed necessary for the protection of you and your children.*

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

* Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)(a)

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back to topHow long does an order for protection last?

An order for protection can last up to 2 years unless the judge decides its appropriate to make it extend it beyong that.*

*Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)

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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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