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Legal Information: Colorado

Colorado Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

A restraining order or protective order is a legal order issued by a state court which requires one person to stop harming another. In Colorado, there are domestic violence protection orders and protection orders for stalking, sexual assault, physical harm/threats and abuse of elderly/at-risk.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

A Colorado protection order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by (1) any person who is or has been related to you by blood or marriage, (2) any person who has lived with you or lives with you now, or (3) any person with whom you have had an intimate relationship.

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Colorado?

In Colorado, for the purpose of a civil protection order, domestic abuse/violence is defined as when someone with whom you have a specific relationship commits any of the following:

  • any act, attempted act, or threatened act of violence, stalking, harassment, or coercion against you; or
  • any act, attempted act, or threatened act of violence against:
    • your children who are under 18; or
    • any animal owned by you or the abuser or by a child of you or the abuser. The purpose of the violent act or threat against the animal must be to coerce, control, punish, intimidate, or get revenge upon you or a minor child of you or the abuser.1

Coercion, mentioned above, is defined as using force, the threat of force, or intimidation to:

  • make you do something that you have the right not to do; or
  • to make you not do something that you have the right to do.1

Note: The Colorado courts website lists various behaviors on their Colorado Protection Order Form Incident Checklist that may be relevant in a court case for a civil protection order. However, even if one or more of these actions took place, you still need to be able to prove to the judge that these actions meet the legal definition of domestic abuse (explained above).

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-101(2)

What types of domestic violence protection orders are there? How long do they last?

There are a three types of civil domestic violence protection orders, which are described below. The first two can be issued regardless of whether or not you have called the police about the abuse.1

1. Temporary (ex parte) Protection Orders: A temporary (ex parte) protection order can be issued if the judge believes that you are in immediate danger.2 (Note: "Ex parte" means that you can get the order without the abuser being notified beforehand or present in court.) The judge is not supposed to deny you the order based solely on the fact that the act of abuse or threat of harm happened a while before you filed for the order.2 A temporary (ex parte) protection order is designed to protect you during the time that it takes for your full court hearing for a permanent order to take place, which is usually within the next 14 days.3 The order is not enforceable until the abuser is personally served.4

2. Permanent Protection Orders: When both you and the abuser return to court for the hearing after you get a temporary protection order, the judge can either:

  • continue the temporary protection order for up to 1 year (if both parties are present at the hearing and both agree to the continuance); or
  • if the judge determines that the abuser has committed domestic violence, and that without the order, s/he will continue to commit such acts or will intimidate or retaliate against you, the judge can grant you a permanent protection order (with provisions different from the temporary protection order, if necessary).5

Note: Permanent protection orders can sometimes cover temporary care and custody of minor children. However, even if your permanent protection order lasts for many years, the part of the permanent protection order that deals with custody can only last for one year.6 To get a long-term custody order, you would likely have to file a separate custody petition – we suggest talking to a lawyer about how to do this. You can find free and paid lawyers on our CO Finding a Lawyer page.

3. Emergency Protection Orders: An emergency protection order can be requested by local law enforcement based on the belief that an adult is in immediate and present danger of domestic abuse, assault, stalking, sexual assault/abuse or that a minor child is in immediate danger of an unlawful sexual offense or domestic abuse (based upon an allegation of a recent actual or threatened unlawful sexual offense or domestic abuse). Note: In the case of a minor child, the order could also be requested by the county department of social services, or another “responsible person.”7 This type of order last only for a few days and is generally issued when the courts are closed or if you file for a temporary ex parte protection order but the judge cannot hold a hearing on the same day you file.8

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(1)(b)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(7)(a)
3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(10)
4 See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(9)
5 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-106(1)(a),(b)
6 Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-14-105(1)(e)(I)
7 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-103(1)(c),(e)
8 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-103(1)(f)

What protections can I get in a domestic violence protection order?

A temporary or permanent protection order may:

  • order the abuser to stop hitting, threatening, or harming you or your children;
  • order the abuser to stay away from you and/or your children;
  • order the abuser to stop contacting you and/or your children;
  • order the abuser to move out of the home you share or out of your home (if you can prove that physical or emotional harm would happen if s/he stayed in the home);
  • order the abuser to stay away from your home;
  • order the abuser to not interfere with your job or school or do anything that would harm your employment or educational relationships/environment;
  • give you temporary care and control of your children and order parenting time rights, supervised or unsupervised (this part of the order only lasts up to 1 year); and grant you temporary decision-making responsibility when it is related to preventing domestic abuse or preventing the child from witnessing domestic abuse;
  • order the abuser to continue to make payments on the mortgage or rent, insurance, utilities and related household services, transportation, medical care, or child care when the respondent has an existing duty or legal obligation;
  • order the abuser to not hide or get rid of your personal effects, land, or homes that are yours alone or shared with the abuser;
  • order the abuser to not threaten, harm, kill, hide or take any animal owned by you or by a child of you or the abuser;
  • make specific arrangements for the possession and care of an animal owned by you or by a child of you or the abuser;1
  • order the abuser to not have or buy any firearm or ammunition for the duration of the order and to give up any that s/he currently has in his/her possession or control to a licensed firearms dealer, private party or to law enforcement;2 and
  • do anything else that the judge thinks is necessary for your safety.1

An emergency protection order (these are different than temporary ex parte orders) can do any of the following:

  • order that the abuser stop contacting, harassing, injuring, intimidating, threatening, molesting, touching, stalking, sexually assaulting or abusing the victim, the victim's child (if the victim is an adult) or the abuser's child;
  • order that the abuser be removed from the home you share or from your home if it is shown that physical or emotional harm would otherwise happen;
  • give temporary care and control of any minor child involved;
  • order the abuser to not contact the child at school, at work, or wherever s/he may be found;
  • order the abuser to not threaten, harm, kill, hide or take any animal owned by the victim or by a child of either party; and/or
  • make specific arrangements for the possession and care of an animal owned by the victim or by a child of either party.3

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

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-14-105(1)(a)-(j)(I), 13-14-104.5(8)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-105.5(11), (1)(a), (2)(c), CITATION AND TEMPORARY CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER ISSUED PURSUANT TO §13-14-104.5, C.R.S.​
3 Colo. Rev. Stat § 13-14-103(1)(b)

In which county can I file for a domestic violence protection order?

You can file for a protection order in the county where the abuse happened, where the abuser lives, where you live, where the abuser works, or where you work.1

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(3)

Who can get a domestic violence protection order

Am I eligible to file for a domestic violence protection order?

You can ask a civil court for a protection order if the abuser has committed domestic violence against you or your children as long as  s/he is one of the following:

  • A relative or former relative (either by blood or marriage);
  • A spouse or ex-spouse;
  • The father or mother of your child;
  • A current or former intimate partner (not married to you); or
  • A current or former housemate.1

Also, if the judge finds that there is an immediate danger to the employees of a business, the judge can issue a protection order in the name of the business for the protection of the employees.2 

A parent may file on behalf of a minor child (under 18).3  You cannot get a protection order against someone who is under 10 years old.4  You may want to contact a domestic violence organization or a court clerk for more information on minors requesting protective orders.  See CO Advocates and Shelters and CO Courthouse Locations for contact information.

Note: Colorado also has protection orders based on stalking, assault and threatened bodily harm, sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact, and emotional abuse of an elderly or at-risk person – the abuser does NOT have to be related to you or in an intimate relationship with you to qualify for one of these orders.  For more information on each of the these orders, see Protection Orders for Stalking, Sexual Assault, Physical Harm/Threats, and Elder Abuse.

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-101(2)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(7)(b)
3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-101(2.2), Colorado Rules of County Civil Procedure Rule 317(C)
4 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(1)(a)

Can I file for a protection order against a same-sex partner?

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

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

Can a minor file for a domestic violence protection order?

It is not clear according to Colorado law if a minor victim of abuse can file for his/her own order without a parent.  For minors under 18, a parent or guardian can file for the protection order.1  If a parent or guardian is not available, it may be possible to have someone else apply on the minor’s behalf but you may want to check your court’s clerk’s office to make sure they would accept a petition brought by an adult who is not the parent or guardian.  You may want to contact a domestic violence organization or a court clerk for more information on minors requesting protective orders.  See CO Advocates and Shelters and CO Courthouse Locations for contact information.

Note: You cannot get a protective order against someone who is under 10 years old.2

1 Colo. Rev. Stat.§ 13-14-101(2.2); see Colorado Rules of County Court Civil Procedure Rule 317(C)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(1)(a)

How much does it cost?

There are no fees for filing for a protection order in Colorado when the reason for the protection order is domestic abuse, domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.  It is free to file the order in court and to serve the order through the sheriff's office.1

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. 13-14-109(1),(2)

Do I need a lawyer?

No, you do not need a lawyer to file for a protection order, but it may be better to have one. If the abuser has a lawyer, you should try to get one too. Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

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 information on legal assistance and domestic violence organizations on the CO Places that Help page. You will find contact information for courthouses on the CO Courthouse Locations page.

For more information, you can also write to our Email Hotline. We cannot represent you in court or give you legal advice, but we may be able to answer some of your questions.

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

I am an employer of an abuse victim. How can I protect my business from the abuser?

Colorado law authorizes an employer to apply for a protection order in the name of the business if the employer believes that the employees or customers are in immediate danger from the abuser1 (for example, the employee is being stalked and the stalker comes to the workplace, scaring the employee and others). If the judge or magistrate finds that the employees or customers of a business are in immediate danger, s/he can grant the order to keep the abuser away from the business.1

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(7)(b)

Steps for getting a domestic violence protection order

Step 1: Get the required forms.

You will need to go to an appropriate county or district court and ask for the required forms for filing a “motion for civil protection order.”   An appropriate county court is a court in the county where you live or work, where the defendant lives or works, or where the abusive incident occurred.   You need to file in district court if you have previously filed for divorce or custody with the person you wish to get the order against. (To find the courthouse in your county, go to CO Courthouse Locations.)

The forms are also available online.  To access those forms and instructions on how to go about asking for a protection order, you can go to the Colorado state court website.

Step 2: Fill out the appropriate forms.

Carefully fill out the appropriate forms. When you are filling out the forms, you will be the "petitioner" and the abuser will be the "respondent." Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • The county where you live or work and the county where the abuser lives or works;
  • The names and birthdays of children who will also be protected by the protection order;
  • A description of what happened and when – in other words, you’ll need to explain why you are seeking a protection order; and
  • What kind of relief you are seeking – in other words, you need to tell the court whether you want the abuser to get out of your home, to not contact you at all, to only contact you in specific ways, etc.

When filling out the forms, be sure to include a detailed description of the facts and circumstances of the domestic violence that you have been through. If you would like the court to give you a temporary (ex parte) protection order, be sure to also explain why you need immediate protection. You must show the court why your need for protection is urgent and cannot wait. (The complaint/motion for protection order will use the word “imminent” instead of “immediate.”)

Read the application carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Describe in detail how the defendant (abuser) injured or threatened you. Explain when and where the abuse or threats occurred. Write about the most recent incident of violence, using descriptive language ("slapping," "hitting," "grabbing," "choking," "threatening," etc.) that fits your situation. Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible. Colorado provides a form called an “incident checklist,” which may help you identify the different forms of abuse that the abuser committed against you.

Please note that the court will not deny you a protection order solely because of a lapse of time between an act of abuse or threat of harm and filing of the petition for a protection order.1

Note: If you are divorced from your abuser, you may have to include in your application for a protection order either a copy of the divorce decree (court order) or a statement that the decree is currently unavailable, but that you will file a copy of the decree with the court before the hearing date on the application.

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(7)(a)

Step 3: Sign the verified complaint/motion for protection order and affidavit regarding children in front of a court clerk or notary public and submit all forms to the clerk.

A court clerk or notary public must see you sign the verified complaint/motion for protection order and affidavit regarding children. You may either (1) bring the completed, but unsigned paperwork with you when you go to the courthouse to submit it and ask a clerk to witness your signing, or (2) take the completed, but unsigned paperwork with you to a notary public who will witness your signing and notarize the verified complaint/motion for protection order and affidavit regarding children. There may be a fee (usually around five dollars) for a notary. There is no fee for the court clerk.1

The judge may wish to ask you questions as s/he reviews your petition. The judge will then decide, based on the information you provide, whether or not to give you a temporary protection order.

If the judge grants a temporary protection order, you will be given a written copy of it. Be sure to obtain any additional copies you might need. You will need at least two copies, one for yourself and one to have served to the abuser (see Step 4: Service of Process for more information). You may need more depending on your situation. (For example, if you have minor children listed on your temporary protection order, you may want to give a copy of the order to the child’s school or daycare provider.)1

Note: Remember that although the hearing for your temporary protection order will happen without the abuser being there, the abuser does have the right to be present at the hearing for the permanent protection order. For tips on how to deal with seeing the abuser at the hearing for the permanent protection order, see Safety in Court under our Safety Tips page.

1 See Instructions for Obtaining a Civil Protection Order, JDF 400, available at the Colorado Judicial Branch website

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

Step 4: Service of process

The abuser must be served with: (1) a copy of the verified complaint/motion for protection order and (2) a temporary protection order (if one is granted) before the date of your hearing for a permanent protection order.1

You may ask a local sheriff in the county where the abuser will be located when served, a private process server, or someone you know who is at least 18 years old, is not involved in the case, and is familiar with the Colorado rules of service to serve the abuser.2

You cannot be charged a fee for having a sheriff serve a protection order related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.3

Once service is complete, whoever completed service has to fill out the affidavit/certificate of service, sign it in front of a notary (unless the process server is a deputy sheriff), and give it back to you. You should then make a copy of it and and keep it with your copy of the protection order and bring the original to the hearing. This document is very important, especially if the abuser doesn’t show up in court; it is your proof that the abuser was served with the papers and notified of the court date. The order is not enforceable until the defendant has been served.

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(9)
2 see Rule 4 C.R.C.P.
3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-109(2)

Step 5: The hearing

To get a permanent protection order, you must show up for your scheduled hearing. The time and date of your hearing will be on your temporary protection order. If you do not show up, your temporary protection order will automatically expire.1Note: Failure to show up for your hearing may possibly make it more difficult for you to get one in the future. It is extremely important that you show up for your hearing.

There are a number of possible outcomes at the permanent protection order hearing:

  1. The defendant does not appear in court and you can prove the defendant has been served. If that happens, you may request that the protection order be made permanent. If you request the permanent order and no changes are made to the order, the law allows the judge to make the order permanent without requiring the defendant to be served again.2 If any changes are made when the permanent order is issued, the law requires that the defendant be served with a copy of the modified permanent protection order.
  2. The defendant was never served. If the defendant has not been served, you still need to go to court to ask for a continuance to continue to attempt to get the defendant served.
  3. The defendant agrees to make the protection order permanent or to extend the temporary order for 1 year. At the beginning of the protection order hearing, the judge may ask what each party would like to have happen. At this time the defendant may agree to make it permanent or to extend it for 1 year (but you must also agree to this in order for the judge to issue the one-year temporary order).3
  4. Another possible outcome is a contested hearing, which is a hearing where you will likely each have the opportunity to testify and present witnesses, photographs, and other evidence either through your attorney or on your own (it is recommended that you have an attorney). After the hearing, the judge will decide whether to make the protection order permanent or to deny the protection order.

See the Preparing Your Case section for ways you can prove to the judge that you were abused. You can learn more about the court system in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section. You can learn more about the court system in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section.

1 See Instructions for Obtaining a Civil Protection Order, JDF 400
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-14-106(1)(a)
3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-106(1)(a),(b)

After the order is in place

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Colorado have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some steps that you may want to take as you are preparing to leave the courthouse:

  • Review the protection order before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
  • Obtain several copies of the protection order.
  • Leave a copy of the protection order at your work place, at your home, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, in your purse, and if children are included, then at the children’s school or daycare.  Basically, make sure that you have a copy of the protection order available at all times.  Once the defendant has been served, put a copy of the return of service with all copies of the protection order.
  • 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 protection order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • Be sure that the information you provided on the information sheet for registering a protection order is complete and accurate so that police are able to effectively enforce the order.  For more information about the information sheet for registering a protection order, see Step 1: Get the required forms.

Note: A protection order is not a guarantee of your safety.  Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order.  Many batterers obey protection orders, but some do not, and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  For suggestions on staying safe, visit our Staying Safe page.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  To find an advocate in your area please visit our CO Advocates and Shelters page.  Remember that if the abuser violates the order in any way, you can report the violation to your local law enforcement, and s/he may be arrested.

Can I get my domestic violence protection order from Colorado enforced if I move?

Yes, federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.  Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid restraining order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1 

Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state.  You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.  You may also call the National Center on Full Faith and Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order in another 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.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

What can I do if the abuser violates the protection order?

There are generally two ways to deal with a violation. You could file a motion for contempt in which you are telling the court that issued the order that the respondent has violated it and you are asking the court to find that the abuser in contempt of court and to punish him/her accordingly.

The other option is to contact law enforcement to report the violation by calling 911 or contacting your local law enforcement office. When the police arrive:

  • The officer/deputy should interview you and the defendant (if s/he is still on the premises) separately. If they do not do this, ask the officer/deputy to speak to you in private, away from the abuser.
  • Show the officer your protection order and the return of service form if the order is temporary. The return of service form proves that the abuser was served with the temporary order.
  • Try to stay calm and tell the police what happened in the order that it happened.
  • Save any evidence of the violation (e.g., damaged property, photos of injuries, photos of the scene, caller ID info, taped conversations, emails, voicemails, text messages, etc.) and show the evidence to the police. Provide the police with the names and addresses of any other witnesses to the violation.
  • Get the officer’s/deputy’s name, badge number, and report number as this will help you in following up on the report.

The officer/deputy must have "probable cause" to arrest the defendant. Probable cause is defined as “reasonable cause to believe that a crime has been committed or is currently being committed.” Even if the officer/deputy determines that there is no probable cause to arrest the defendant, an Incident Report should be made, which documents what happened. If the officer/deputy determines that probable cause exists to arrest the defendant but the abuser has already left the scene, the officer/deputy may apply for an "arrest warrant," which would allow the police to arrest him/her once s/he is found. It may take several days before the arrest warrant is actually issued by a court and the arrest is made.

The abuser can be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced for up to 18 months in jail for violating the order. In addition, if s/he committed a separate crime when violating the order (such as burglary, assault, etc.), s/he can be charged with that crime as well as being charged with the violation of the order.1

1 See Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-14-106(1), 18-6-803.5; see also Form 399: Permanent Civil Protection Order

Can I file to modify the terms or length of my order or cancel it?

Yes. To change the terms of your order, you must file with the court where you originally obtained the protection order.1 For instructions on how to file a motion to modify/dismiss a protection order, you can go to the CO Courts website.

1 See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(2)(a), (3)(a)(II), (4)

Can the abuser ask the court to terminate my permanent protection order?

Possibly, yes, but whether or not the respondent will be successful depends on many factors. The respondent can apply to the court for a modification, including but not limited to, a modification of the duration of the protection order or dismissal of a permanent protection order.1 S/he must prove at a hearing (where you can be present) that the modification is appropriate or that a dismissal is appropriate because the protection order is no longer necessary.2 However, the respondent must wait two years after the permanent order was issued or after any prior motion by the respondent to modify or dismiss the order (regardless of whether or not the judge granted the prior motion).1

In considering whether or not to modify or dismiss a protection order, the judge will consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:

  1. whether or not the respondent has complied with (followed) the terms of the protection order;
  2. whether or not the respondent has met the conditions associated with the protection order, if any;
  3. whether or not the respondent has been ordered to participate in, and has completed, a domestic violence offender treatment program or sex offender treatment program, or has made significant progress in a sex offender treatment program as reported by the sex offender treatment provider;
  4. whether or not the respondent has voluntarily participated in any domestic violence offender treatment program or any sex offender treatment program;
  5. the amount of time that has passed since the protection order was issued;
  6. when the last incident of abuse or threat of harm occurred or other relevant information concerning the safety and protection of the protected person;
  7. whether or not, since the issuance of the protection order, the respondent has been convicted of or pled guilty to any misdemeanor or any felony against the protected person, other than the original offense that formed the basis for the issuance of the protection order (see "note" below);
  8. whether or not any other restraining orders, protective orders, or protection orders have been issued afterwards against the respondent in any state;
  9. the circumstances of the parties, including how close the distance is between the parties' residences, schools or work places, and whether or not the parties have minor children together; and
  10. whether or not the continued safety of the protected person depends upon the protection order remaining in place because the order has been successful in preventing further harm to the protected person.3

Note: If after the permanent protection order is issued, the respondent is convicted of any misdemeanor or any felony against you, other than the original offense that was the basis for the protection order, then the respondent can never modify or ask for dismissal of the permanent protection order.4

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-14-108(2)(b)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(5)
3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(6)
4 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(3)(a)(I)

If you are the defendant in a protection order case

What if I disagree with the protection order issued against me?

If a temporary protection order has been issued against you, you will have the opportunity to be heard before a permanent protection order is granted.  The person requesting the permanent protection order must arrange for you to be served with written notice of the date and time of the hearing for the permanent protection order along with the petition that was filed against you.1  At that hearing, you will have the opportunity to prove to the judge that the allegations against you are false and that a permanent protection order should be denied.

You may want to seek the assistance of an attorney since representing yourself can be difficult to do, especially if the petitioner has an attorney.  To find an attorney in your area, go to our CO Finding a Lawyer page.  Note: If you show up to court and the petitioner has a lawyer and you do not (or if you want to get a lawyer even if the petitioner doesn’t have one) you may ask the judge for a continuance. 

If you fail to show up for the hearing or if you lose the protection order hearing and a permanent protection order is issued against you, you cannot challenge it for two years.  After two years, you may file a motion to modify/dismiss the protection order.  For instructions on how to file a motion to modify/dismiss a protection order, visit Colorado’s court website or click here.  However, if, after the permanent protection order is issued, you (the respondent) are convicted of any misdemeanor or any felony against the protected person (petitioner), other than the original offense that was the basis for the protection order, then you (the respondent) can never file to modify or dismiss the permanent protection order.2  For information on what factors the judge will consider when deciding whether or not to dismiss the permanent protection order, go to Can the abuser ask the court to terminate my permanent protection order?

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(9)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(3)(a)(I)

I have been ordered to stay away from my house. How do I collect my belongings?

If you need to get personal belongings or clothing, you may contact the local police department or county sheriff's office.  A peace officer will accompany you one time to the residence.1

You will find a list of sheriff departments on our CO Sheriff Departments page.

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(11)

Protection Orders for Stalking, Sexual Assault, Physical Harm/Threats, and Abuse of Elderly/At-Risk Adult

This protection order is a civil order designed to stop violent, threatening, harassing, stalking or sexually abusive behavior and to protect you and your family members from an abuser.  You may be eligible for one even if you are not related to the abuser and not in an intimate relationship with him/her.

Basic info and definitions

What is a protection order for stalking, sexual assault, physical harm/threats abuse of the elderly/ at-risk adult?

Similar to a protection order for domestic violence, this type of protection order is an official court order designed to stop violent, threatening, harassing, stalking or sexually abusive behavior or emotionally abusive behavior to an elderly or at-risk adult and to protect you and your family members from anyone who is harming you regardless of your relationship to that person.1 You can apply for one whether or not you are related to the abuser or in an intimate relationship with him/her. It can prohibit the restrained person (the abuser) from contacting, harassing, stalking, injuring, intimidating, or threatening you and may forbid the restrained person from entering or remaining in a specific place or from coming within a certain distance of you or your home. Also, a protection order can prohibit the abuser from threatening, taking, transferring, concealing or harming an animal owned by the protected person.2

1 See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(1)(a)
1 See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-101(2.4)(a)

What is the legal definition of stalking?

Below, we define stalking according to Colorado law. Please note that for the purposes of getting a protection order, however, you can be a victim of stalking or of any attempted act or threatened act of stalking.1 Stalking can happen in two ways.

The first definition of stalking is when someone directly, or indirectly through another person, makes a threat, physical action, or repeated conduct that causes you to be in fear for your safety or the safety of your immediate family or intimate partner. As a way of making you fearful, the stalker must do one of the following to you, your immediate family or intimate partner:

  • repeatedly follow, approach, contact or put under surveillance; or
  • repeatedly make any form of communication (i.e., phone calls, texts, emails). Note: it does not matter if any words are spoken or not – for example, the stalker can keep calling and hanging up.2

The second definition of stalking is when someone directly, or indirectly through another person, repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, places under surveillance, or makes any form of communication with you, your immediate family or intimate partner that causes you, your immediate family or intimate partner to suffer serious emotional distress (pain).2

Note: “Immediate family” means your spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, or child.3

The big difference between the two definitions is that the first one involves the stalker causing you to fear for the safety of you or your family and the second one does not. In the second one, the behavior must cause you to be seriously distressed (upset) but you don’t necessarily have to fear for your life or safety.

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-101(3)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-602(1)
3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-602(2)(c)

What is the legal definition of sexual assault?

For the purposes of getting a protection order, sexual assault or sexual abuse means any act, attempted act, or threatened act of unlawful sexual behavior.1  "Unlawful sexual behavior" can include many sex-based crimes such as sexual penetration or intrusion (such as inserting an object) against your will and without your consent, touching your intimate parts or forcing you to touch the abuser's intimate parts.  Sexual assault/abuse can occur by physical force, coercion, threat or trickery.  This includes situations in which a victim is drunk, drugged, unconscious, or otherwise unable to consent.2

Also included in the definition of sexual assault is what is commonly known as “statutory rape” – where the sexual act is consensual (agreed to by both people) but either:

  • The victim is under 15 and the offender is at least 4 years older than the victim or
  • The victim is under 17 (is 15 or 16) and the offender is at least 10 years older than the victim.3

Exception: if the couple is married to each other, and the sexual act is consensual, it does not qualify as statutory rape.3

Note: There are many other sex-based crimes that are considered unlawful sexual behavior that may qualify you for a protection order.4  To read the whole statute, go to our CO Statutes page and read section 16-11.7-102, subsection (3).

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-14-101(2.9)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-402(1)(a)-(c),(h)
3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-402(1)(d)-(e)
4 See Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-14-101(2.9), 16-11.7-102(3)

What is the legal definition of physical assault/harm?

A person commits physical assault if s/he causes bodily harm (injury) to another.1 The law also allows you to apply for a protection order if you are not injured but the abuser threatens you with physical harm/injury.2

1 Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-3-202 ; 18-3-203; 18-3-204
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(1)(A)(I)

What is the legal definition of abuse of the elderly or an at-risk adult?

An at-risk adult is someone who is susceptible to mistreatment or self-neglect because:

  • s/he is unable to take care of his/her own health, safety, or welfare; or
  • s/he lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his/her body or affairs.1

An elderly person is defined as someone who is age 60 or older.2

    Mistreatment of an elderly person or an at-risk adult can include repeated acts of:

    • Verbal threats, assaults or harassment;
    • Giving you medicine improperly, or threatening to give you medicine improperly;
    • Physically or chemically (through medication or drugs) restraining you inappropriately; or
    • Using his or her authority (as a guardian or conservator) to unreasonably confine you or restrict your liberty (in other words, treating you like a prisoner); or
    • Threatening violence or using actual violence against the animal of an elderly person or at-risk adult, or taking, hiding or getting rid of his/her animal with the intention to coerce, control, punish, intimidate, or get revenge upon the elderly person or at-risk adult.2

    Additionally, abuse of an at-risk adult can also mean any of the following:

    • causing physical pain or injury, which can be proven by substantial or multiple bruises, bleeding, malnutrition, dehydration, burns, bone fractures, poisoning, subdural hematoma (bleeding on the brain), soft tissue swelling, or suffocation;
    • unreasonable confinement or restraint;
    • criminal sexual conduct or sexual contact;
    • caretaker neglect;
    • exploitation; or
    • any act or failure to act that threatens the health, safety, or welfare of an at-risk adult or that exposes him/her to a situation or condition that poses an immediate risk of bodily injury.3

    (For more detailed definitions of caretaker neglect and exploitation as they apply to an at-risk adult, please see our CO Statutes page).

    1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 26-3.1-101(1.5)
    2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-101(1)
    3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 26-3.1-101(1),(7)

    What types of protection orders are there? How long do they last?

    There are a three types of civil protection orders, which are described below.  The first two can be issued regardless of whether or not you have called the police about the abuse.1 

    1. Temporary (ex parte) Protection Orders
    : A temporary (ex parte) protection order can be issued if the judge believes that you are in immediate danger.2  (Note: "Ex parte" means that you can get the order without the abuser being notified beforehand or present in court.)  The judge is not supposed to deny you the order based solely on the fact that the act of abuse or threat of harm happened a while before you filed for the order.2   A temporary (ex parte) protection order is designed to protect you during the time that it takes for your full court hearing for a permanent order to take place, which is usually within the next 14 days.3  The order is not enforceable until the abuser is personally served.4

    2. Permanent Protection Orders: When both you and the abuser return to court for the hearing after you get a temporary protection order, the judge can either:

    • continue the temporary protection order for up to 1 year (if both parties are present at the hearing and both agree to the continuance); or
    • if the judge determines that the abuser has committed the act(s) that you allege and that without the order, s/he will continue to commit such acts or will intimidate or retaliate against you, the judge can grant you a permanent protection order (with provisions different from the temporary protection order, if necessary).5  

    Note: Permanent protection orders can sometimes cover temporary care and custody of minor children.  However, even if your permanent protection order lasts for many years, the part of the permanent protection order that deals with custody can only last for one year.6  To get a long-term custody order, you would likely have to file a separate custody petition – we suggest talking to a lawyer about how to do this.  You can find free and paid lawyers on our CO Finding a Lawyer page.

    3. Emergency Protection Orders:
    An emergency protection order can be requested by local law enforcement based on the belief that an adult is in immediate and present danger of domestic abuse, assault, stalking, sexual assault/abuse.  This type of order last only for a few days and is generally issued when the courts are closed or if you file for a temporary ex parte protection order but the judge cannot hold a hearing on the same day you file.7

    1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(1)(b)
    2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(7)(a)
    3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(10)
    4 See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(9)
    5 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-106(1)(a),(b)
    6 Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-14-105(1)(e)(I)
    7 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-103(1)(e),(f)

    What protections can I get in a protection order?

    A temporary or permanent protection order may:

    • order the abuser to stop hitting, threatening, or harming you or your children;
    • order the abuser to stay away from you and/or your children;
    • order the abuser to stop contacting you and/or your children;
    • order the abuser to move out of the home you share or out of your home (if you can prove that physical or emotional harm would happen if s/he stayed in the home);
    • order the abuser to stay away from your home;
    • order the abuser to not interfere with your job or school or do anything that would harm your employment or educational relationships/environment;
    • give you temporary care and control of your children and order parenting time rights, supervised or unsupervised (this part of the order only lasts up to 1 year); and grant you temporary decision-making responsibility when it is related to preventing domestic abuse or preventing the child from witnessing domestic abuse;
    • order the abuser to continue to make payments on the mortgage or rent, insurance, utilities and related household services, transportation, medical care, or child care when the respondent has an existing duty or legal obligation;
    • order the abuser to not hide or get rid of your personal effects, land, or homes that are yours alone or shared with the abuser;
    • order the abuser to not threaten, harm, kill, hide or take any animal owned by you or by a child of you or the abuser;
    • make specific arrangements for the possession and care of an animal owned by you or by a child of you or the abuser;1
    • depending on the circumstances, order the abuser to not have or buy any firearm or ammunition for the duration of the order and to give up any that s/he currently has in his/her possession or control to a licensed firearms dealer, private party or to law enforcement;2 and
    • do anything else that the judge thinks is necessary for your safety.1

    An emergency protection order (these are different than temporary ex parte orders) can do any of the following:

    • order that the abuser stop contacting, harassing, injuring, intimidating, threatening, molesting, touching, stalking, sexually assaulting or abusing the victim, the victim's child or the abuser's child;
    • order that the abuser be removed from the home you share or from your home if it is shown that physical or emotional harm would otherwise happen;
    • give temporary care and control of any minor child involved;
    • order the abuser to not contact a minor child at school, at work, or wherever s/he may be found;
    • order the abuser to not threaten, harm, kill, hide or take any animal owned by the victim or by a child of either party; and/or
    • make specific arrangements for the possession and care of an animal owned by the victim or by a child of either party.3

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

    1 Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-14-105(1)(a)-(j)(I), 13-14-104.5(8)
    2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-105.5(1)(a) & (2)(c)
    3 Colo. Rev. Stat § 13-14-103(1)(b)

    Who is eligible for a protection order against stalking, sexual assault, physical harm/threats or abuse of the elderly/at-risk adult?

    What are the steps for getting the protection order?

    Who can get a protection order? Can I get one against someone who is not my spouse, intimate partner, or relative?

    Under Colorado law, you may be eligible for a protection order against someone you are not in a relationship with and not related to if that person has:

    • stalked you,
    • sexually assaulted you,
    • made “unlawful sexual contact” with you,
    • physically assaulted you,
    • threatened you with physical harm, or
    • threatened or harmed an animal owned by your or by your children (if you are an elderly or at-risk adult).1

    Note: If you are at least 60 years old OR mentally or physically incapacitated, verbal abuse or wrongful confinement can also be reasons for a protection order. See What is the legal definition of abuse of an elderly or at-risk adult? for more information.

    1 Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-14-104.5(1)(a); 13-14-101(1)

    Can a minor file for a protection order?

    It is not clear according to Colorado law if a minor can file for his/her own order without a parent.  For minors under 18, a parent or guardian can file for the protection order.1  If a parent or guardian is not available, it may be possible to have someone else apply on the minor’s behalf but you may want to check your court’s clerk’s office to make sure they would accept a petition brought by an adult who is not the parent or guardian.  You may want to contact a legal services organization or a court clerk for more information on minors requesting protection orders.  See CO Finding a Lawyer and CO Courthouse Locations for contact information.

    Note: You cannot get a protective order against someone who is under 10 years old.2

    1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-101(2.2); see Colorado Rules of County Court Civil Procedure Rule 317(C)
    2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(1)(a)

    How much does it cost to get a protection order?

    The filing fees for civil court petitions are listed on the Colorado State Judicial Branch website here. However, there can be no fee charged when the person seeking a protection order is a victim of domestic abuse, stalking, sexual assault or sexual abuse -- in those cases, it is free.1 If you are required to pay a filing fee but are unable to afford it, you may apply to have the fee waived. You will have to complete a “Motion to File Without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit.” You can download the form here. The guidelines for determining if you qualify for a fee waiver are based on your income and can be found in the Colorado State Judicial Branch's “Guide for Determining Indigency.”

    1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-109(1)

    Do I need a lawyer?

    No, you do not need a lawyer to file for a protection order, but it may be better to have one.  If the abuser has a lawyer, you should try to get one too.  Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

    Depending on the details of your situation, domestic violence organizations in your area (if appropriate) 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 information on legal assistance and domestic violence organizations on the CO Places that Help page.  You will find contact information for courthouses on the CO Courthouse Locations page.

    For more information, you can also write to our Email Hotline.  We cannot represent you in court or give you legal advice, but we may be able to answer some of your questions.

    If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

    I am an employer of an abuse victim. How can I protect my business from the abuser?

    Colorado law authorizes an employer to apply for a protection order in the name of the business if the employer believes that the employees or customers are in immediate danger from the abuser1 (for example, the employee is being stalked and the stalker comes to the workplace, scaring the employee and others). If the judge or magistrate finds that the employees or customers of a business are in immediate danger, s/he can grant the order to keep the abuser away from the business.1

    1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(7)(b)

    Civil Protection Orders Filed by Employers

    Although Colorado does not have a separate "workplace protection order" as some states do, Colorado law permits an employer to apply for a domestic violence protection order in the name of the business if the employer believes that the employees or customers are in immediate danger from the abuser.1  For example, if the victim of abuse is being stalked at the workplace, an employer may file for an order to protect the abused employee and the other employees.  If the judge or magistrate finds that the employees or customers of a business are in immediate danger, s/he can grant the order to keep the abuser away from the business.1 

    1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-104.5(7)(b)

    Moving to Another State with a Protection Order

    If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your protection order can still be enforceable.

    General rules

    Can I get my protection order from Colorado enforced in another state?

    Yes. If you have a valid Colorado protection order that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid protection orders granted in the United States receive "full faith and credit" in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories. See the question below to find out if your protection order qualifies.

    Each state must enforce out-of-state protection orders in the same way it enforces its own orders. Meaning, if your abuser violates your out-of-state protection order, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated. This is what is meant by "full faith and credit."

    How do I know if my protection order is good under federal law?

    A protection order is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

    • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
    • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
    • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story. It doesn’t matter if he actually showed up in court; just that he had the opportunity to do so.
      • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled within a "reasonable time" after the order is issued.2

    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.

    1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)(A)
    2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a),(b)

    I have a temporary ex parte order.  Can it be enforced in another state?

    Yes. An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my protection order is good under federal law?1

    Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court). However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

    1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

    Getting your Colorado protection order enforced in another state

    How do I get my protection order enforced in another state? 

    Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your protection order enforced in another state.

    Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid order if protection is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1 Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

    1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

    Do I need a special copy of my protection order to it enforced?

    In some states, you will need a certified copy of your Protection Order. A certified copy says that it is a "true and correct" copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it. In CO, a certified order has a stamped seal on it.

    The copy you originally received may or may not be a certified copy, depending on the county in which it was issued. If your copy is not a certified copy, call or go to the court that gave you the order and ask the clerk's office for a certified copy. The court may charge a small filing fee to get a certified copy of a CO protection order.

    Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move. 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. Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

    Do I need a lawyer?

    You do not need a lawyer to get your protection order enforced in another state.

    However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to. A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your protection order, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

    To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, select your state from the Places that Help tab on the top of this page and then click Finding a Lawyer.

    Do I need to tell the court in Colorado if I move?

    No. The abuser may attempt to modify (change) or vacate (cancel) the Protection order. However, it is unlikely that the court will change or cancel the order just because they cannot locate you. Instead, the court will most likely dismiss the abuser's request. If you do decide to provide your new address to the Court, you may want to request that it be kept confidential. But remember that confidential records may be accessible to certain court officials or law enforcement officials. If you feel unsafe giving your address, you may give the address of a trusted friend or a P.O. Box.

    Enforcing custody provisions in another state

    I was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Can I take my kids out of the state?

    Maybe. It will depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your Protection Order. You may have to first seek the permission of the court before leaving. If your abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

     

    To read more about custody laws in Colorado, go to our CO Custody page.

    If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a domestic violence advocate or lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance in the CO area on our CO Advocates and Shelters page.

    I was granted temporary custody with my protection order.  Will another state enforce this custody order?

    Yes. Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a protection order can be enforced across state lines. Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.1

    1 18 USC § 2266

    Enforcing your Out-of-State order in Colorado

    If you are planning to move to Colorado or are going to be in Colorado for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

    General rules for out-of-state orders in Colorado

    Can I get my protection order enforced in Colorado? What are the requirements?

    Yes. Your protection order can be enforced in Colorado as long as:

    • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
    • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
    • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story. It doesn’t matter if he actually showed up in court; just that he had the opportunity to do so.
      • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled within a "reasonable time" after the order is issued.2

    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.

    1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)(A)
    2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a),(b); Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-110(2)

    Can I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in Colorado?

    No. Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You cannot have this done by a court in Colorado.

    To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued. You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living. Contact the court that issued your protective order to find out if this is possible. To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

    If your order does expire while you are living in Colorado, you may be able to get a new one issued in Colorado but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Colorado. To find out more information on how to get a protective order in Colorado, visit our CO Domestic Violence Protection Orders page.

    I was granted temporary custody with my out-of-state protection order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in CO?

    Yes. As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 Pennsylvania can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

    To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets this legal standard, contact a lawyer in your area. To find a lawyer in your area, select the state you are in from the Places that Help tab on the top of this page and then click Finding a Lawyer.

    1 The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

    Registering your out-of-state order in Colorado

    If I don’t have a hard copy of my out-of-state order, how can law enforcement enforce it?

    To enforce an out-of-state order, law enforcement typically may rely on the National Crime Information Center Protection Order File (NCIC-POF). The NCIC-POF is a nationwide, electronic database that contains information about orders of protection that were issued in each state and territory in the U.S. The Protection Order File (POF) contains court orders that are issued to prevent acts of domestic violence, or to prevent someone from stalking, intimidating, or harassing another person. It contains orders issued by both civil and criminal state courts. The types of protection orders issued and the information contained in them vary from state to state.1

    There is no way for the general public to access the NCIC-POF. That means you cannot confirm a protection order is in the registry or add a protection order to the registry without the help of a government agency that has access to it.

    Typically, the state police or criminal justice agency in the state has the responsibility of reporting protection orders to NCIC. However, in some cases, the courts have taken on that role and they manage the protection order reporting process.2 NCIC–POF is used by law enforcement agencies when they need to verify and enforce an out-of-state protection order. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

    However, not all states routinely enter protection orders into the NCIC. Instead, some states may enter the orders only in their own state protection order registry, which would not be accessible to law enforcement in other states. According to a 2016 report by the National Center for State Courts, more than 700,000 protection orders that were registered in state protection order databases were not registered in the federal NCIC Protection Order File.2 This means that if a law enforcement officer is trying to enforce a protection order from another state that is missing from the NCIC, the victim would likely need to show the officer a hard copy of the order to get it immediately enforced. If you no longer have a copy of your original order, you may want to contact the court that issued the order to ask them how you can get another copy sent to you.

    1National Center for Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit
    2 See State Progress in Record Reporting for Firearm-Related Background Checks: Protection Order Submissions, prepared by the National Center for State Courts, April 2016

    Do I have to register my protection order in Colorado to get it enforced?

    No, you are not required to register your order to get it enforced. Colorado state law gives full protection to an out-of-state protection order as long as you or someone else can show the police officer a copy of your protection order and you can truthfully tell him or her that the order is still good.1

    A peace officer can enforce an out-of-state protection order that appears to be an authentic court order that has been provided to the peace officer by you or by any other source. If you do not have a copy of your protection order, the officer can still enforce your order as long as s/he can verify it through the central protection order registry in Colorado, the National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC), or through communication with appropriate authorities.1 You can read more about the NCIC under the question What is the National Crime Information Registry (NCIC)? Who has access to it?

    1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-110(4)

    Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

    Some courts in Colorado will notify the abuser if you register your Protection Order. If you fear that your abuser may try to locate you in Colorado, you may wish to consult a local domestic violence advocate to find out whether your county court will notify your abuser.

    You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations in CO on our CO Advocates and Shelters page.

    What if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

    While neither federal law nor state law requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced, if your order is not registered, it may be more difficult for a Colorado law enforcement official to determine whether your order is real. Meaning, it could take longer to get your order enforced.

    If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Colorado. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in Colorado, go to our CO Advocates and Shelters page.

    Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

    No. There is no fee for registering your out-of-state protection order in Colorado.