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Know the Laws: Montana

UPDATED July 16, 2017

Orders of Protection (for victims of domestic violence)

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A an order of protection is a civil order that protects you from someone who is harming you or has threatened to harm you.

Basic information

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

Under Montana law, victims of domestic violence and certain other crime victims (not related to domestic violence) can be eligible to file for an order of protection.  We discuss both below.  In addition, a parent / guardian can seek an order on behalf of a child under age 16 against an adult who has no legal supervision/control over the child solely because the parent believes that contact between them is not in the child's best interests (even if there is no domestic violence or crime committed).*  For more information, see Can a minor get an order of protection?

Domestic violence is defined for the purposes of getting an order of protection as:

  1. when you are reasonably afraid of bodily injury from a partner or family member; or
  2. when a partner or family member commits one of the following crimes against you:

In addition to victims of domestic violence, anyone can file for an order of protection against anyone who commits one of the following crimes against them, regardless of their relationship to the offender:

* Mont. Code  § 45-5-622(4)
** Mont. Code  § 40-15-102(1)
*** Mont. Code  § 40-15-102(2)

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

In Montana, there are two types of orders of protection: 

A temporary order of protection is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection.  A judge can issue it if you allege, and the judge believes, that you will be in danger of harm if the court does not issue a temporary order of protection immediately.  It is effective for up to 20 days.* The abuser does not get prior notice that you are requesting a temporary order of protection from the court. However, the abuser will be served with a copy of the order after it is granted. This copy will generally also include a notice of court hearing for a more permanent order, as described below.  Note: If you meet the requirements for an order of protection, the length of time between the abusive incident and your application for an order of protection is irrelevant.**

A final order of protection can be granted only after a full court hearing where the abuser has an opportunity to appear and tell his/her side of the story.  Generally this hearing will take place approximately 20 days after the temporary order is issued.  However, the abuser may request an emergency hearing before the end of the 20-day period by filing an affidavit that demonstrates that s/he has an urgent need for the emergency hearing.  An emergency hearing must then be set within 3 working days of the filing of this affidavit.***  A final order of protection (which is sometimes called a "permanent order of protection") can last for a specific period of time or remain in effect permanently.****

* Mont. Code § 40-15-201(1),(2), (4)
** Mont. Code § 40-15-102(6)
*** Mont. Code § 40-15-202(2)
**** Mont. Code  § 40-15-204

 

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back to topHow can an order of protection help me?

A temporary or final order of protection can order the abuser to:

  • Stop threatening to commit or committing acts of violence against you or other family members;
  • Stop harassing, annoying, disturbing the peace of, contacting or otherwise communicating, directly or indirectly, with you or other family members (or any witness to the abuse);
  • Not remove your child from the state (jurisdiction of the court);
  • Leave and stay 1,500 feet (or another distance) away from you, your home, your school, work, or another specific place;
  • Be excluded (removed) from your home (regardless of who owns the home);
  • Not transfer, hide, or get rid of any property (except as would normally be done in the "usual course of business");
  • Give you possession and use of the home, a car, and other essential property (no matter who owns any of these things) and order law enforcement to accompany you to the home to get these items;
  • Order the abuser to complete violence counseling (including drug counseling or treatment, if necessary);
  • Be prohibited from possessing or using a firearm (if one was used in an assault against you); and/or
  • any other relief that is necessary to provide for the safety and welfare of you or your family members.*

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

* Mont. Code §§ 40-15-201(2); 40-15-204(3)

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

You can file a petition in the county where you live, in the county where the abuser lives, or in the county where the abuse took place.  There is no minimum length of residency required to file a petition.*  To figure out which type of court to file in, please see our Steps for obtaining an order of protection section.

* Mont. Code § 40-15-301(4)

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