Can I file for a civil protection order if I am a minor?
Whether you can file on your own will depend on your age and who you are filing against:
- If you are 16 or older, you can file by yourself in all cases.
- If you are between age 12 and 16, you can file your a petition on your own only if you are a victim of intimate partner violence (i.e., the abuser is a current or former boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse or domestic partner). If you are filing against anyone else (e.g., a relative, someone you live with, etc.), your parent, guardian, or custodian must file the petition on your behalf.
- If you are under age 12, your parent, guardian, or custodian must file the petition on your behalf.1 The minor child under age 12 is not required to be present at any of the court dates.2
Note: If you are a minor of any age, you have the option of your parent, guardian, custodian, or other appropriate adult filing the petition for civil protection on your behalf.1
Whenever a parent or guardian files the petition for a minor who is age 12 or older, the judge has to consider the minor's wishes in deciding whether to issue the final protection order and in determining what terms will be included in that order.3
If you fall into one of the categories that requires you to have a parent, guardian, custodian or other appropriate adult file for you but no one is willing to do so, the Attorney General may file the petition on your behalf if you, your representative, or a government agency make this request to the Attorney General. In this case, though, the Attorney General actually represents the interests of the District of Columbia and not specifically your particular interests.4 You are not legally required to be at the court dates.5
Note: If you are a minor filing by yourself but you live with your parent, guardian, or custodian, the court will send a copy of your court papers to that parent, guardian, or custodian, unless the judge feels that it would not be in your best interests to do so. The judge might then send the notice of the court hearing to another appropriate adult.6
1 D.C. Code § 16-1003(a)
2 D.C. Code § 16-1005(a-1)(2)
3 D.C. Code § 16-1005(a-1)(3)
4 D.C. Code § 16-1003(c)
5 D.C. Code § 16-1005(a-1)(1)
6 D.C. Code § 16-1004(e)