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Know the Laws: Michigan

UPDATED August 16, 2016

Domestic Relationship Personal Protection Orders

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A domestic relationship personal protection order ("PPO") is a civil order that  provides protection from harm by a family member, household member, someone with whom you have a child in common, or someone you have dated or are dating.

Steps for getting a PPO

back to topStep 1: Go to court to get and file the petition.

You can go to the family division of the circuit court to get a petition during normal business hours, Monday through Friday. To find the courthouse in your area, go to MI Courthouse Locations.

You may also get a sample petition online on our MI Download Court Forms page.

At the courthouse, tell the clerk of court that you want to file a petition for a personal protection order. Let the clerk know whether you are filing for a domestic relationship PPO (or a non-domestic PPO). 

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back to topStep 2: Bring photo ID for you and information about the abuser.

It may be helpful to bring the following information about the abuser, if you have it:

  • a photo (to help law enforcement serve the PPO)
  • addresses of residence and employment
  • phone numbers
  • a description and plate number of the abuser's car
  • information about his/her history of drugs or gun ownership.

Remember to bring some form of photo identification of your own (a driver's license or other identification that includes your picture) since you may likely have to show that when you sign your petition in court.

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back to topStep 3: Fill out the necessary forms.

The clerk will provide you with the forms that you need to file. On the complaint form, you will be the "petitioner" and the abuser will be the "respondent."  You can write about the most recent incidents of violence, using descriptive language - words like "slapping," hitting," "grabbing," threatening," "choking," etc. - that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible. Be specific.

It may also be necessary to inform the court about any previous court action you have taken against the abuser, including any criminal cases involving the abuse.

Be sure to give a safe mailing address and phone number - and ask to keep your home address confidential if the abuser doesn't know where you live. If you are staying at a shelter, you may want to ask the shelter if they have a Post Office Box that you can use.

If you need assistance filling out the form, you may want to ask the clerk for help. Some courts may have an advocate that can assist you. Another option is to find help through one of the domestic violence agencies or legal organizations listed on our MI State and Local Programs page or MI Finding a Lawyer page under the Where to Find Help tab on the top of this page.

You can also find some of the forms you will need from our MI Download Court Forms page.

Note: Be sure to sign the forms in front of the court clerk.

Once you have completed your paperwork, return it to the clerk. The probation department will then run a "check" of the abuser's criminal and protective order history.

A clerk will look the forms over and assign your case a judge and case number. The whole process can take up to several hours.

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back to topStep 4: The "ex parte" hearing

When your case number is called, you will be brought to the judge's chambers for an ex parte hearing.  At this hearing, the judge will read your petition and ask you why you want a PPO. The abuser will not be present for the ex parte hearing.  At the end of this hearing, the judge can grant you an ex parte domestic relationship PPO that will be valid for at least 182 days.* 

If the judge grants an ex parte PPO, the court clerk will give you a copy of the order.  Review the order before you leave the courthouse to make sure that the information is correct.  If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how you can correct the order before you leave.

Be sure to keep your PPO with you at all times. You may want to keep copies in your car, workplace, or at your children's daycare or school if they are included in the order.

An ex parte domestic relationship PPO is enforceable anywhere in Michigan as soon as it is signed by a judge - even before it is served on the abuser.**  You should know that your order may not be enforceable outside of Michigan until the abuser has been served with papers that tell him about the PPO. If you plan on leaving Michigan before the abuser has been served, please speak with an advocate at a domestic violence organization in your area to figure out a safety plan.  Go to our MI State and Local Programs for organizations near you.

* MCLA 600.2950(13)
** MCLA 600.2950(12)

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back to topStep 5: Service of process

The abuser must be "served," or given papers that tell him/her about your domestic relationship PPO.

The clerk will send the order to the police, or give you other instructions on how to get the paperwork served.  The police will then attempt to find the abuser and serve him/her notice of the domestic relationship PPO, as well as the paperwork to request a hearing if s/he wants one.  The abuser may also be served by certified mail, return receipt requested, by an adult other than you, or by a professional process server.*  Check with the clerk to be sure of the proper instructions for service.  If the abuser is a minor (under 18), his/her parent, guardian or custodian must also be served.* 

In most counties, there is no charge to have the authorities serve the abuser (although some sheriff's offices may charge a fee for service and mileage).   You cannot serve the papers on the abuser yourself.

* MCLA 600.2950(18)

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back to topStep 6: What will I have to prove at the hearing?

As the plaintiff requesting a domestic relationship personal protection order, you must:

  • Prove that the abuser has committed acts of domestic violence (as defined by the law) against you
  • Convince a judge that you need protection and the specific things you asked for in the petition.

See the Preparing your Case section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.

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back to topStep 7: The hearing

The abuser has the right to file a motion to modify (change) or rescind (cancel) the personal protection order and request a hearing within 14 days of being served with the order (unless s/he has a good reason to extend the time to file the motion).* If the abuser does request a court hearing, a hearing will normally be set for some time during the following 14 days.** 

You must go to the hearing, if the abuser requests one. If you do not go to the hearing, a judge might take away your ex parte PPO. If you do not show up at the hearing, it may be harder for you to get another PPO in the future.

If the abuser requested a hearing, but does not show up, the judge may continue with the hearing without the abuser or s/he may order a new hearing date.

Continuance. You have the right to bring a lawyer to represent you at the hearing. If you need more time to find a lawyer (especially if you show up to court and the abuser has a lawyer and you do not), you may ask the judge for a "continuance" to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself.  Go to our MI Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.

* MCLA 600.2950(11)(g),(13)
** MCLA 600.2950(14)

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