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Know the Laws: Indiana

UPDATED May 24, 2016

Orders for Protection

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An order for protection is a civil order that protects you from abuse by a family or household member.

Basic information

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

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

"Domestic violence" (also known as "family violence") is when a "family or household member" commits one or more of the following acts (except if the act is committed in self-defense) against you:

  • Attempting to cause, threatening to cause, or causing you physical harm;
  • Placing you in fear of physical harm;
  • Stalking you;
  • Causing you to involuntarily engage in sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress;
  • Beating, torturing, mutilating or killing an animal with the intent to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, or terrorize you.*
For the legal definition of a "family or household member," see Who can get an order for protection?

In addition, for the purposes of getting an order for protection, Indiana law also includes stalking and sex offenses that were committed by someone who is NOT a family or household member (e.g., a stranger, neighbor, acquaintance) as part of the definition of “domestic violence.”  Therefore, if you were stalked or sexually assaulted by someone who is NOT a family or household member, you can still apply for a civil order for protection.*  For the definition of stalking and sex offenses, see What is the definition of stalking and "sex offenses"?

* IC § 31-9-2-42

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back to topWhat are the definitions of stalking and "sex offenses"?

Indiana law allows you to get an order for protection against anyone who has stalked you or committed a sex offense against you (whether or not this person is a family or household member).*

Stalking is a pattern of behavior.  It includes two or more incidents of intentional and repeated harassment that reasonably cause you to feel frightened, intimidated or threatened.**

A “sex offense” is when someone forces you to have sexual intercourse*** or “deviate sexual conduct” (i.e., oral or anal sex; or penetration with an object):****

  • by force or an immediate threat of force;
  • when you are unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring; or
  • when you are so mentally disabled or deficient that you cannot consent to sexual intercourse (including if you are drugged without your knowledge).
There are additional sex offenses which could qualify you or your child for an order for protection including child molestation (of a child under 14), sexual misconduct with a minor (which involves sexual contact with a child between the ages of 14 and 16, child seduction (which involves sexual contact with a child between the ages of 16 and 18), vicarious sexual gratification; fondling in the presence of a minor, child solicitation, sexual battery, and communication with a child concerning sexual activity.  You can click on each link to read the definitions of these crimes on our IN Statutes page.

* IC § 31-9-2-42
** IC § 35-45-10-1
*** IC § 35-42-4-1
**** IC §§ 35-42-4-2 and 35-31.5-2-94

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back to topWhat is an order for protection? What types are there?

An order for protection is a civil court order intended to provide protection from domestic / family violence, stalking, or a sex offense. There are two types of orders:

Ex parte orders for protection: You can get an ex parte order if, based on your petition, the judge believes that domestic violence has occurred.  To get an ex parte order, generally you must prove to the court that you and/or your family or household member is in immediate danger from the abuser.  Ex parte orders are generally issued as an emergency response as soon as you file your petition, without the abuser being present.  For the order to be effective, the abuser has to be served with the order.  Either party (you or the abuser) then has 30 days from the date the abuser is served with the order to request a hearing on the ex parte order for protection.  In some cases, the judge will order a hearing even if neither party requests it. The hearing, in most circumstances, must be held within 30 days after the request for a hearing is filed or ordered by the judge.  The court will notify both parties by first class mail of the date and time of the hearing.*  If no hearing is requested, the ex parte order for protection can last for 2 years after the date it was given unless another date is ordered by the court.**

Final Orders for Protection: A final order for protection is one that is issued after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have the right to be present and present evidence (i.e., testimony, witnesses, etc.) in court.  You must attend that hearing even if the abuser does not.  You can still get a final order even if the abuser does not attend, as long as s/he was served with notice of the hearing.   If you do not go to the hearing, your ex parte order may expire and you may have to start the process over again.  If you are given a final order after a hearing, it will generally last for two years, unless otherwise stated.**  Orders may also be extended beyond the two years.  See How do I change or extend the order?

Please refer to the Indiana Courts website to download the necessary forms and get more information about orders for protection. You may also find the court forms you need on our IN Court Forms page.

* IC § 34-26-5-10
** IC § 34-26-5-9(e)

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back to topHow can an order for protection help me?

An ex parte order for protection (without notice to the abuser and without a hearing) can:

1. Prohibit the abuser from committing, or threatening to commit, acts of domestic or family violence, stalking, or sex offenses against you and your family or household members.  Note: Although you may be able to add your children onto your order as “protected parties,” this only means that the respondent cannot threaten violence or commit any acts of violence against them. It generally does not interfere with the an existing parenting time or custody order although you may have to exchange the children through a third party.  If there is no existing custody order, the court may deny parenting time until such an order is established.

2. Prohibit the abuser from harassing or annoying you through:
    a) Telephone, email, text message, etc.
    b) direct contact (face to face)
    c) indirect contact (sending messages to you through another person).

3. Order the abuser to stay away from:
    a) your residence
    b) your school
    c) your work and
    d) other places where you and your family or household members usually go.

4. Remove the abuser from your residence, regardless of who owns the residence.

5. Order possession and use of the home, an automobile, and other important personal items (such as critical medications or household items that you need), regardless of who actually owns these items.  Note: the court can order a law enforcement officer to accompany you to the home to ensure that you are safely put back into the home (if you had left) and that you can get your automobile, and important personal items.  The officer can also supervise your or the abuser’s removal of personal belongings.

6. Order other relief necessary to provide for your safety and the safety of your family or household members on the petition.* 

Note: If you request and/ or the judge orders numbers 4, 5, and/or 6 in the list above, the judge must then hold a hearing within 30 days to give the abuser the right to object to those parts of the order.  The judge must also order a hearing within 30 days if you request that any of the relief listed below in numbers 2, 3, 4 and/or 5 be included in your final order for protection.**

A final order for protection (issued after a hearing) can:

1. Give you everything mentioned in the list above.

2. Order the abuser to pay you money for various expenses, including:
     a. Court costs
     b. Attorney fees
     c. Rent/mortgage payments on your residence
     d. Child support and maintenance
     e. Medical expenses
      f. Counseling and/or shelter
     g. Repair or replacement of damaged property.

3. Make a parenting time arrangement, which can include the following to ensure your safety or your child’s safety:
     a. Requiring supervised parenting time between the abuser and your child or
     b. Denying parenting time altogether to the abuser.

4. Prohibit the abuser from possessing firearms, ammunition, or deadly weapons.

5. If the abuser owns a firearm, ammunition, or a deadly weapon, the judge may order him to surrender those items to a local law enforcement agency for the time that you have your order for protection or until such date that is ordered by the court.

6. Pay the costs and expenses that come with the use of a GPS tracking device (if appropriate).***

* IC § 34-26-5-9(b)
** IC § 34-26-5-10(b)
*** IC § 34-26-5-9(c)

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

You can file for an order for protection in the county where you live or are staying temporarily, where the abuser lives, or where the abuse happened.*

However, if you have left the home and want to keep the address where you are staying confidential, filing in that county would likely not be a good idea since it would alert the abuser to the fact that you are living in that county.

* IC § 34-26-5-4(b)

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