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Know the Laws: Mississippi

UPDATED November 26, 2012

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A protective order is a civil order that provides protection from physical abuse, stalking, sexual abuse and threats of abuse by someone who meets a specific relationship requirement.

Basic information

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

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a domestic violence protective order.

Under MS law, “abuse” means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between spouses, former spouses, persons living as spouses or who formerly lived as spouses, persons having a child in common, other relatives who live together or formerly lived together or between people who have a current or former dating relationship:

  • Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury or serious bodily injury with or without a deadly weapon;
  • Placing, by physical menace or threat, another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  • Criminal sexual conduct committed against a minor;
  • Stalking;
  • Cyberstalking;
  • Statutory rape;
  • Rape by force or by drugging the victim;
  • Sexual battery.*
Note: "Abuse" does not include any act of self-defense.*

* MS Code § 93-21-3(a)

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back to topWhat types of protective orders are there? How long do they last?

A protective order is a court order that is designed to stop your abuser from hurting you and your family.

There are 2 types of protective orders.

A temporary order is designed to offer you immediate, emergency protection from the abuser. Temporary orders are granted only if you can prove to the judge through your testimony or evidence that you need one to prevent immediate harm to you or your family.  A judge will assume that if you are asking for a temporary order you will also want a permanent order. 

A temporary order generally lasts until the court hearing that you must have in order to receive a permanent order. This usually takes place within 10 days after the abuser has been presented, or served, with the temporary order.  The orders can be extended for up to 20 days.*

You may receive a temporary order ex parte, which means without the knowledge of the abuser, or his presence in the courtroom.

A permanent order can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story.  It offers longer-term legal protection than the temporary order. A permanent order lasts up to three years and the expiration date will be clearly written on the order. 

However, if you are given temporary custody, visitation or child support in a final domestic abuse protection order, those terms are only effective for 180 days.  For a longer lasting order adderssing those issues, you would have to file separate petitions for custody, visitation or support.  If at the end of the one-hundred-eighty-day period, neither party has filed a separate petition regarding those issues, the custody, visitation or support terms will go back to whatever order was in effect regarding those topics when the domestic abuse protection order was granted.**

* MS Code § 93-21-13(1)
** MS Code § 93-21-15(1)(c)

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back to topHow can a protective order help me?

A temporary order can:

  • Order your abuser to stop abusing you, your children, and any person deemed to be incompetent;
  • Order the abuser to stay away from you and/or your household members and from the home, school and work of you and/or other household members;
  • Grant you possession of the home and order the abuser to leave the residence (and give you the right to return to the residence if you have left);
  • Order your abuser not to contact you and/or other household members in person, by phone, email or text;
  • Prohibit any mutually owned or leased property between you and your abuser from being transferred or disposed (given away or destroyed), unless it is in the ordinary course of business.*

A permanent order can do all of the things that a temporary order can do (listed above) and also:

  • Grant you possession of the home and order the abuser to leave the residence (and give you the right to return to the residence if you have left) or, by agreement, allow the abuser to provide you with suitable, alternate housing (when the abuser has a duty to support you or your children, and is the sole owner of the residence or household)
  • Award temporary custody of or establishing temporary visitation rights for your children;
  • Order the abuser to pay temporary spousal support or child support if the respondent is legally obligated to support you or your children;
  • Order your abuser to pay you monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse, including, but not limited to, medical expenses resulting from such abuse, loss of earnings or support, out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained, moving expenses, and a reasonable attorney's fee;
  • Order counseling or professional medical treatment for the abuser, including counseling or treatment designed to help end his/her abusive behaviors.*

Note: The protective order will have a warning to the abuser that possessing a firearm may be against federal law. (See our MS State Gun Laws and Federal Gun Laws pages for more information).  However, to try to get local police to enforce the firearm restriction, you can ask the judge to include in the protective order that the abuser has to hand over any firearms in his possession to the authorities and forbid him from buying firearms.

* MS Code § 93-21-15(1)(a) & (2)(a)

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