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Línea Nacional para la Violencia Doméstica: 1-800-799-7233 o (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Conozca la Ley: North Dakota

ACTUALIZADA 27 de enero, 2016

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A protection order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family or household member, including someone you are dating.

Basic information

arribaWhat is the legal definition of domestic violence in North Dakota?

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

North Dakota law defines domestic violence as when a family or household member:

  • physically harms you;
  • causes you bodily injury;
  • physically forces you into sexual activity;
  • assaults you; or
  • puts you in fear of immediate physical harm, bodily injury, physically forced sexual activity, or assault.*

* N.D. Code § 14-07.1-01(2)

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arribaWhat types of protection orders are there in North Dakota and how long do they last?

There are two types of domestic violence protection orders:

Temporary (ex parte) protection orders:
A temporary protection order can be issued the day you file your petition without the abuser being present in court and without prior notice to the abuser.  A temporary order can be granted  if you can prove to the judge through your testimony or evidence that there is an immediate and present danger of domestic violence based upon a recent incident of domestic violence.*  Generally, a temporary protection order lasts until the hearing for the protection order, which is usually held within 14 days.**

Note: According to North Dakota law, if the courts are closed and you are in urgent need of an ex parte order, you may file an application for an order with a magistrate.  If there is “good cause” to do so, the magistrate can grant you an order.  Showing that you are in immediate and present danger of domestic violence is considered to be “good cause” to grant an order.  If you are granted an order by a magistrate, it will last 72 hours, or until a district court can grant you  a temporary order.***

Domestic violence protection orders:
A domestic violence protection order can be issued based upon a showing of actual domestic violence or domestic violence that is about to happen (“imminent domestic violence”).  The order can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to testify, and present evidence and witnesses to try to convince the judge to rule in your favor.****  At this hearing, you may want to try to get a lawyer to represent you so that you can be present your case.  For legal referrals, go to our ND Finding a Lawyer page. 

* N.D. Code § 14-07.1-03(1)
** N.D. Code § 14-07.1-03(4)
*** N.D. Code § 14-07.1-08
**** N.D. Code § 14-07.1-02(4)

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arribaHow can a domestic violence protection order help me?

In a temporary ex parte protection order, a judge can:

  • forbid the abuser from contacting you or committing acts of domestic violence against you or any other person;
  • exclude the abuser or anyone with whom the abuser lives from your home, another person’s home (such as your relative), or a domestic violence shelter;
  • award temporary custody or establish temporary visitation rights of minor children you have with the abuser; and
  • order the abuser to hand over any firearms in his/her possession to the authorities and forbid him/her from buying firearms if the judge believes that the abuser is likely to use, display or threaten to use the firearm in further acts of violence.*

A final domestic violence protection order can:

  • forbid any party from threatening, molesting, injuring, harassing, or having contact with any other person;
  • exclude the abuser or anyone with whom the abuser lives from your home, another person’s home (such as your relative), or a domestic violence shelter if necessary to the physical or mental well-being of the you or others;
  • award temporary custody and visitation rights of any minor children in common;
  • recommend or require that you and/or the abuser undergo counseling with a domestic violence program or other organization that provides professional services that the judge thinks is appropriate;
  • award spousal support, child support, and attorney’s fees;
  • award temporary use of personal property, including motor vehicles; and
  • order the abuser to hand over any firearms in his/her possession to the authorities and forbid him/her from buying firearms if the judge believes that the abuser is likely to use, display or threaten to use the firearm in further acts of violence.**

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

* N.D. Code § 14-07.1-03(2)
** N.D. Code § 14-07.1-02(4)

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Who can get a protection order

arribaAm I eligible for a protection order?

You may be eligible for a domestic violence protection order if a family or household member commits an act of domestic violence or if you can prove that domestic violence that is about to happen (“imminent domestic violence”).  For the purpose of getting a domestic violence protection order, "family or household member" means a:

  • spouse or former spouse;
  • parent;
  • child;
  • other family member;
  • person related by blood or marriage;
  • a person you are dating;
  • a person who is living with you or has lived with you before; or
  • someone with whom you have a child in common, even if you were never married or lived together.*

Note: The law says that you can file against "any other person" if the judge determines that the relationship between you and the abusive person is "sufficient to warrant the issuance of a domestic violence protection order."**

* N.D. Code § 14-07.1-01(4)
** N.D. Code § 14-07.1-02(1)

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arribaCan I get a protection order against a same-sex partner?

In North Dakota, you may apply for a protection order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Am I eligible for a protection 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 North Dakota?

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arribaHow much does it cost to get a protection order? Do I need a lawyer?

There is no cost to file for a protection order or to have it served on the abuser.*

Although you do not need a lawyer to file, it may be in your best interest to get a lawyer, especially if the abuser is represented by one.  A domestic violence organization in your area may be able to refer you to an attorney or legal aid service that will take your case for free or at a reduced rate.  Go to our ND Finding a Lawyer page to find help in your area.

* N.D. Code § 14-07.1-03(6)

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The steps for obtaining a domestic violence protection order

arribaStep 1: Go to a certified domestic violence advocate or to the district court and request a petition.

Most protection orders in North Dakota come through the help of a certified domestic violence advocate.  In fact, if you contact the court directly, you may be referred to the closest domestic violence program for help.  See ND State and Local Programs for the location of an organization near you.

However, you may choose to get an attorney or seek an order by yourself.  This is always your right.  If you choose to seek the order yourself, go to a district court in your area.  You can find a court near you by going to our ND Courthouse Locations page.

Find the civil court clerk.  The clerk is the courthouse official in charge of records.  Request an application for a domestic violence protection order from the clerk.  Also tell the clerk if you want a temporary ex parte order.  Usually you apply for these at the same time.  Read more about temporary ex parte orders.   You can find links to applications online by going to Download Court Forms.

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arribaStep 2: Fill out the application.

Carefully fill out the forms.  You may want to write about the most recent incidents of violence, using descriptive words like "slapping," "hitting," "grabbing," "threatening," "choking," etc., that fit your situation.  Include details and dates, if possible.  Be specific.

You may also have to provide an accurate physical description of the abuser and an address where s/he can be found so the order can be served.

A domestic violence organization may be able to provide you with help in filling out the form.  See ND State and Local Programs for the location of an organization near you.

Note:  Do not sign the petition until you have shown it to a clerk.  The form may need to be notarized or signed while someone from the court watches.

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arribaStep 3: A judge will review your application.

After you finish filling out your application, bring it to the court clerk.  The clerk will forward it to a judge.  The judge may want to ask you questions as s/he reviews your application.  The judge will decide whether or not to give you an ex parte order if you have requested one.  To read more about temporary ex parte orders, go to What types of protection orders are there? How long do they last?

Whether or not you are granted an ex parte order, your case will be scheduled for a hearing for the final domestic violence protection order (assuming your petition is not dismissed).  You will be given papers that tell you the time and date of your hearing for a domestic violence protection order.  Your hearing for a domestic violence protection order will take place within two weeks of filing your application with the court.*

If the judge grants you an ex parte order, the court clerk will forward it to law enforcement so that your order can be enforced.**

* N.D. Code § 14-07.1-02(2)
** N.D. Code § 14-07.1-03(5)

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arribaStep 4: Service of process

The abuser must be served with a notice of hearing and with any protection orders that a judge has granted you.  The judge will order the sheriff or other law enforcement officer to assist with serving the abuser.*  If you have questions about service, see our ND Sheriff Departments page to find the sheriff department nearest you.

The abuser must be served at least five days before the hearing date.  If the abuser isn't served five days prior to the hearing, the judge may reschedule your hearing.**

* N.D. Code § 14-07.1-04
** N.D. Code § 14-07.1-02(3)

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arribaStep 5: The hearing

It is very important that you attend all of the court dates.  If you do not attend, the judge may dismiss your case and any temporary protection orders will stop being effective. If you find out you absolutely cannot attend, contact the court clerk immediately and ask how you can get a "continuance" or an "adjournment" for a later court date. 

If the court case does not settle, it will go to a hearing (trial).  At the hearing, you will be able to testify in court about the abuse and harassment you have experienced, present witnesses and other evidence to support your case.  The abuser will be allowed to do the same.  If you are not represented by a lawyer, you may want to consult with a lawyer before the hearing to understand what documents and evidence are legally admissible in court.  You can also find tips on our Preparing Your Case page.

If the abuser does not attend the hearing, the judge may issue a "default judgment" and you may receive a protection order against him/her in his/her absence.  The judge may still ask you to present your evidence and testimony and then decide the case based on that alone.  It is also possible that the judge may decide to reschedule the hearing for a different day.

If you have a temporary protection order, it may expire on the next court date and another temporary one may be issued that is effective until the following court date.  Be sure to look at the expiration date of the order before each court date so you know if the judge should be issuing another temporary protection order on your return court date.  If the judge does not mention that the protection order is extended or continued, be sure to ask the judge if a new order is being issued on your behalf.  Once the case goes to a hearing or trial, if you win your case, the judge would issue a final protection order.

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After the hearing

arribaWhat should I do when I leave the courtroom?

Here are some things you may want to consider doing.  However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
  • If you are concerned that the abuser will harass you when you leave the courthouse, ask the court officer if s/he would escort you to the door of the building.  If you are afraid the abuser may follow you once you leave the courthouse, explain this to the court officer.  The court officer might hold the abuser there for a few minutes while you leave so that you can get a head start, which would make it difficult for the abuser to trail you.  This could be especially important if you are living in a shelter or confidential location and you do not want the abuser to know where you are staying.
  • Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • 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.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number.  In some counties, there might be a domestic violence agency that would change your locks for free if you have a protection order. 

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order.  People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school.  Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not.  It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  Click on the following link for suggestions on Staying Safe.  Advocates at local resource centers can also assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support as well.

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arribaWhat can I do if the abuser violates the order?

If the abuser violates the protection order, you can report it to the police.  Depending on the facts, the police may decide to arrest the abuser.

The first time someone violates a domestic violence protection order, it could be contempt of court and a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a  punishment of jail time of up to 1 year, a fine of up to $3,000, or both.*  If the same person commits another violation of the domestic violence protection order, it could be a Class C felony that can be punished by jail time of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.**  In addition, if the abuser is arrested for violating the protection order (or any crime involving domestic violence), the judge may order that electronic home detention or GPS monitoring be used for the abuser as a condition of release.*** 

If you do call the police and they respond to an incident, it is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number(s) in case you want to follow up on your case.  Also, 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.

* N.D. Code §§ 14-07.1-06; 12.1-32-01(5)
** N.D. Code §§ 14-07.1-06; 12.1-32-01(4)
*** N.D. Code  § 14-07.1-19

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arribaHow do I change, drop, or extend the order?

You must petition the court to drop or change any part of your order.

If you want to extend your domestic violence protection order, you will have to file a motion requesting that the judge extend the order.  It is best to start the process before your first order expires, or you may have to start from the beginning and repeat the steps you took to get your original order.

The clerk at the district court will have all of the necessary forms to file.  You can find this contact information on the ND Courthouse Locations page.

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arribaWhat happens to my order if I move?

Your protection order is enforceable in all states.  If a person obtains a protection order in one state and leaves that state, the law requires that all other states give “full faith and credit” to the order, meaning that it will be enforced just like it would be in North Dakota.  However, each state has its own laws and procedures for enforcing an order that may be slightly different depending on the state.  Note: Because an ex parte order is given based only on your information and the abuser did not have an opportunity to be heard, there may be limitations on the enforcement of an ex parte order in another state.

Any person with a valid protection order (an order that has not expired) who relocates to another state may want to inquire at a court or law enforcement agency for instructions on the registration and enforcement of orders in that state.  

If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111, ext. 2) for information on enforcing your order in your new state.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

 

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