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Know the Laws: Alaska

UPDATED September 14, 2017

Domestic Violence Protective Orders

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A domestic violence protective order is a civil order that protects you from abuse by a "household member," including relatives and dating partners.

Basic information and definitions

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic violence?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a protective order.  According to Alaska law, domestic violence is when a "household member" commits or attempts to commit one or more of the following crimes against you or against another household member (but s/he doesn't have to be arrested):  

  1. a "crime against the person," which includes the crimes in section 11.41 of the law (or similar crimes in other states);
  2. burglary (1st degree and 2nd degree);
  3. criminal trespass (1st degree and 2nd degree);
  4. arson (1st degree2nd degree, and 3rd degree);
  5. criminally negligent burning (1st degree and 2nd degree); 
  6. criminal mischief (1st degree2nd degree, 3rd degree, 4th degree, and 5th degree);
  7. terroristic threatening (1st degree and 2nd degree); 
  8. harassment (2nd degree - but only sections (a)(2),(3),(4));
  9. violating a protective order - (but only section (a)(1)); and
  10. cruelty to animals if the animal is a pet (but only section (a)(5)).*

Note: A "household member" does not have to live with you.  For the legal definition of household member, see Who can file for a domestic violence protective order?   

In your petition for a protective order, and when you speak to the judge, you should describe what the abuser did to make you need the court's protection.  You are not responsible for knowing exactly what criminal law the abuser violated.

* Alaska Statute § 18.66.990(3)

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

There are three types of domestic violence protective orders:

An emergency order is a temporary, emergency order that a police officer requests from a judge (orally, in writing, in person or by telephone) on behalf of a victim of domestic violence with the victim’s consent.  If the judge believes that the petitioner (victim) is in immediate danger of domestic violence based on an allegation that domestic violence recently occurred, the judge is supposed to issue the emergency protective order. It generally lasts for 72 hours.*

An ex parte order is a temporary order that you would request from the judge in court for immediate protection. To get this order, the judge must believe (from reading your petition) that you have been the victim of domestic violence and that an immediate protective order is necessary.  It generally lasts for 20 days. If a lot of time has passed between the incident and when you file, the judge cannot deny your request for an ex parte protective order based only on the fact that you didn't file immediately after the incident.**

A final order (also called a “long-term” order), is issued by the judge following a hearing in court.  At the hearing, the judge will review your petition (request) for a protective order as well as any evidence or witnesses you bring to court with you.  If you are granted a final order, the order will last for 1 year although the term that "prohibits the respondent from threatening to commit or committing domestic violence, stalking, or harassment" can last until "further order of the court."***

* Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(b)
** Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(a),(d)
*** Alaska Statute § 18.66.100(b)

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back to topHow can a domestic violence protective order help me?

A final (long-term) domestic violence protective order can:

  1. Order the abuser not to commit or threaten to commit domestic violence, stalking, or harassment; (Note: This protection can remain in effect longer than 1 year - until "further order of the court");
  2. Order the abuser not to call, contact, or communicate with you in any way, directly or indirectly;
  3. Give you the sole possession and use of your house, vehicle, pet, and other personal items, even if the abuser’s name is on the rental agreement or s/he has some type of ownership interest in the residence, vehicle or pet;
  4. Exclude (remove) the abuser from your shared home, regardless of ownership of the home, and/or order the abuser to stay away from your house, school or work or any other specified place;
  5. Order the abuser not to get into a vehicle that you possess or that you are in;
  6. Request that a peace officer go with you to your house to make sure that you get possession of your house, vehicle or personal items;
  7. Prohibit the abuser from taking controlled substances (drugs);
  8. Anything else the court determines is needed to protect you or your household members from further violence;
  9. Award you temporary custody of your children and arrange for visitation if you and the child would be safe;
  10. Require the abuser to pay child support, spousal support, and support for the care of a pet in your possession;
  11. Order the abuser not to have or use a deadly weapon or firearm and to surrender his/her firearms if the court finds that the abuser had or used a weapon during the domestic violence;
  12. Order the abuser to go to alcohol or drug treatment and/or a batterers intervention program at his/her expense;
  13. Require the abuser to pay you back for medical expenses, counseling, shelter stay, and repair or replacement of damaged property; and/or
  14. Require the abuser to pay for costs and fees in obtaining the protective order.*

A temporary (20-day) domestic violence protective order can:

  • Order only the protections listed in numbers 1 through 10 above.**  

An emergency (72-hour) domestic violence protective order can: 

  • Order only the protections listed in numbers 1 through 8 above.***

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the specific facts of your case. It is important to let the judge know if you need additional protections that are not listed on the standard protective order form.

* Alaska Statute § 18.66.100(c),(b)(1)
** Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(a)
*** Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(b)

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Getting a domestic violence protective order

back to topWho can file for a domestic violence protective order?

1. A victim of domestic violence
Any person who is a victim of domestic violence by a "household member" can file for a protective order.  Household members include adults or minors who:

  • Are current or former spouses;
  • Live together or who have lived together;
  • Are dating or who have dated;
  • Have or once had a sexual relationship;
  • Are related to each other by blood (including half-blood) or adoption, such as child, parent, grandchild, brother, sister, grandparent, uncle, first cousin, or other relative;
  • Are related by a current or former marriage (including step-parents and step-children);
  • Have a child in common from a relationship whether or not they have been married or have lived together; or
  • Are the minor child of a person in a relationship described above.*
A judge cannot deny you a protective order based only on the fact that there has been a lapse of time between the domestic violence and the filing of the petition.**

Note: If you do not have a household member relationship with the abuser, you may be eligible for a sexual assault or stalking protective order.  For more information about these orders, see What is a stalking or sexual assault protective order?

2. A peace officer
With the consent of a victim of a crime involving domestic violence, a peace officer, may request an emergency protective order from a judicial officer in person or by telephone on behalf of the victim.  If the judge believes that the victim is in immediate danger of domestic violence based on an allegation that the abuser recently committed a crime involving domestic violence, the court can issue an emergency protective order, which expires 72 hours after it is issued unless dissolved earlier by the court at the request of the victim.***

For information about representing yourself in a protective order hearing, you can check out the Alaska State Courts website.  You can also find general information about preparing for court on our Preparing Your Case page.

* Alaska Statute §18.66.990 (5)
** Alaska Statute §18.66.100(e)
*** Alaska Statute §18.66.110(b)

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back to topCan I get a domestic violence protective order against a same-sex partner?

In Alaska, you may apply for a domestic violence protective order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can file for a domestic violence protective order? You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Alaska?

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back to topCan minors get domestic violence protective orders?

Parents or guardians can request domestic violence protective orders on behalf of their child, if the child is under 18. The abuser must have committed a crime of domestic violence against the child. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem or attorney to represent the minor.*

* Alaska Statute §18.66.100(a)

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back to topWhere can I file for a domestic violence protective order?

You can file for a domestic violence protective order in the judicial district where you are living, where the abuser lives, or where the abuse occurred.

* Alaska Statute § 3(h)

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back to topHow much does it cost to get and serve a protective order? Do I need a lawyer?

Nothing.  There is no filing fee to get a protective order.

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for a protective order, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, if you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on the AK Finding a Lawyer page.  In addition, the domestic violence organizations in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms.  You will find contact information for courthouses on the AK Courthouse Locations page.

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Steps for getting a domestic violence protective order

back to topStep 1: Fill out the petition.

To get a copy of the forms for a protective order, go to your local district court or superior court,* or your local domestic violence or sexual assault organization may assist you in filling them out.  You also have the option of downloading the forms and instructions from the Alaska Courts website or using their "Petition Wizard," which asks you a series of questions and fills out the forms for you. 

On the petition (and in court), you are called the “petitioner”.  The person you are getting a protective order against is called the “respondent.”  The Alaska courts website provides detailed instructions for filing, which are summarized in this following "steps."  It may be helpful to read through both before starting to fill out the paperwork.  To find the courthouse near you, go to AK Courthouse Locations.

You may request either an ex parte 20-day order for immediate protection or a hearing for a final one-year order, or both.  When you finish filling out the petition, you need to return it to the court clerk at your local courthouse.  Do not sign the petition until you are in front of the court clerk.  Your signature must be notarized because you are making your written statements under oath.  The court clerk will notarize your petition free of charge.**

Note: When you fill out the section entitled “Information About Petitioner,” you need to provide an address where the court can send mail to you.  Do not give the actual address where you are staying if you think it will be dangerous for the abuser to know where you are. Instead, if possible, give the address of a friend or relative who can make sure you get any mail the court sends.**

* Alaska Statute § 18.66.100(a)
** See the AK Court System Instructions “How to Get a Domestic Violence Protective Order” (pg. 6)

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back to topStep 2: A judge will review your petition and may issue an ex parte order.

The court clerk will give your petition to a judge.  The judge may want to ask you questions as s/he looks over your petition.  The judge will then decide whether to give you an ex parte 20-day order for immediate protection.  To get this order, the judge must believe (from reading your petition) that a crime involving domestic violence has occurred and that an immediate protective order is necessary to protect you from domestic violence.*  All of this will happen while the abuser is not present.

Whether or not you get an ex parte 20-day order, the judge will give you a date for a full court hearing, which will probably take place within 10-20 days.  The judge or court clerk will give you a notice with the date and time of the hearing written on it.

Note: Even though the petition asks you about what efforts you made (if any) to notify the abuser that you were filing the petition, you do not have to notify the abuser in advance -- and you should not do so if it would put you in any danger.

* Alaska Statute § 18.66.110(a)

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back to topStep 3: Service of process

The petition, your temporary ex parte order, and the notice of the hearing needs to be served on the abuser.  Unless the abuser is served in court, the court staff will ask law enforcement to serve the papers on the abuser and they are required to do so by law.*  Do not serve the papers yourself.

A fee cannot be charged for service (unless there are other papers besides the protective order being served on the respondent).**

* Alaska Statute §18.66.160(a)
** Alaska Statute §18.66.160(c)

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back to topStep 4: Hearing for a long-term domestic violence protective order

Since your ex parte order only lasts for 20 days, you must attend the full court hearing if you want continued protection.  If the abuser doesn't come to the hearing, the judge may decide to give you the protective order or reschedule the hearing.  If the hearing is rescheduled, be sure to ask to have your ex parte 20-day order extended until the hearing date.  At the hearing, you will have to prove that the abuser has committed an act of domestic violence as defined by the law.*

The judge will examine all of the evidence that is presented including your testimony, relevant documents and any witnesses that either you or the abuser bring to testify.  For information about representing yourself in a protective order hearing, you can check out the Alaska State Courts website.  You can also find general information about preparing for court on our Preparing Your Case page. 

If the judge finds that the abuser has committed a crime involving domestic violence against you, s/he will grant you a final (also called “long-term”) protective order that lasts for 1 year.  It is generally best to have a lawyer represent you at the hearing, especially if you think the abuser has one.  If the abuser shows up with a lawyer and you don’t have one, you may be able to ask the judge for a continuance (to postpone the case) so that you can try to get a lawyer as well.  You can find contact information for lawyers in your area on our AK Finding a Lawyer page.

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After the hearing

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courtroom?

These are some things you may want to consider after you have been granted a protective order.  Depending on what you think is safest in your situation, you may do any or all of the following:

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • You might want to inform your employer, clergy, family members, and/or your closest friends that you have a protective order in effect so that they can be aware of the restrictions on the abuser.
  • Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number.
Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order.  Many abusers obey protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  Click on the following link for suggestions about Staying Safe.  Advocates at local resource centers can help you design a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  You can find an advocate in your area on the AK State and Local Programs page.

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back to topI was not granted a protective order. What are my options?

If you are not granted a protective order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe.  It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence organizations in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe.  They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need.  For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Staying Safe page.  You will find a list of state resources on our AK State and Local Programs page.

You may be able to reapply for a protective order if a new incident of domestic violence occurs after you are denied the order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone at a domestic violence organization or a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal.  Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.

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back to topWhat if the abuser violates the order?

If you believe that the abuser has violated the protective order, you can immediately call 911.  Also, you can call your attorney if you have one or an advocate or lawyer at a domestic violence organization.  You can also let the court know about the violation.  The violation of an order can be a misdemeanor crime, which can be punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.*

According to Alaska law the police are supposed to make an arrest (although there are exceptions) if:

  1. you report the violation within 12 hours after it happened; and
  2. the police have "probable cause" (a reasonable belief/likelihood) to believe the crime occurred.*1

In figuring out if there is probable cause, officers may talk to you, the abuser, and any other witnesses, examine the place where the violation happened, and consider other relevant factors.

The violation does not have to occur while an officer is there for the arrest to be made.*2  If you report the incident after the first 12 hours, an arrest without a warrant can still be made if there is probable cause to believe that a crime occurred, however it is not mandatory.

Note: Aside from dealing with a violation, if a police officer receives complaints of any incidents of domestic violence from more than one person arising from the same incident, the police are supposed to arrest only the "primary aggressor" (the more violent person), not the victim trying to defend herself.*3  The law prohibits a police officer from threatening to arrest everyone who is present at the domestic violence incident.*4  A police officer who does not make an arrest after a domestic violence incident, or who arrests more than one person from a single incident, must put in writing the reasons for her/his actions.*5

When the police arrive, it is generally a good idea to write down the name of the officer(s) that are there and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.  Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made.  If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it may help you have the order extended or modified (changed) in the future.

* Alaska Statute § 18.66.130(b)
*1 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(a)(2)
*2 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(a)
*3 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(b)
*4 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(d)
*5 Alaska Statute § 18.65.530(e)

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back to topCan I get my protective order from Alaska enforced in another state?

Yes.  Please see our Moving to Another State with an AK Protective Order page for more details.

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back to topCan I modify and/or extend my protective order?

Modifications: After the court has granted either the ex parte temporary protective order or long term protective order, if you want to change part of the order, you can file your request with the court.

Only the judge has the power to modify the order.  If you are trying to modify an ex parte temporary protective order, the court will schedule a hearing with three days' notice or less.  If you are trying to modify a long term order, the court will schedule a hearing within 20 days after the date the request is made if the court finds that the request to modify the order has merit(value).*

You and the abuser cannot change the order simply by agreeing outside of the legal process.  Even if both of you agree to change part of the order, you must still go through the legal system for the change to be enforceable.  It is not valid unless it is written in a court order.  Allowing the abuser to ignore one part of the order could encourage violations of other parts.  For more information, see the AK State Court System's website.

Extensions: You cannot extend the entire long term protective order.  You need to fill out a new petition and begin the process again.  To get an additional order, you should describe if a new domestic violence incident occurred during the previous protective order or state the reason that you believe you continue to need the court's protection.**

Most parts of a long term protective orders expire after one year.  However, the part ("provision") that prohibits the respondent from threatening to commit or committing domestic violence is in effect indefinitely (forever), unless a judge rules otherwise.

* Alaska Statute § 18.66.120(a)(1) & (2)
** Adapted from the AK Court System "How to Represent Yourself in Alaska’s Domestic Violence Protective Order Process"

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