What options do victims have for protection orders? What are the major differences between a military protective order and a civilian protection order?
In both the military and civilian justice systems, you can seek a protection order requiring the abuser to stay away from you, your children, your home, your workplace, your school, and to not commit any violent acts against you. Civil protection orders have different names in the various states, but the military protective orders (MPOs) are consistently called that among all the Services. You can have both an MPO and a civil protection order (CPO) at the same time.
However, the procedure for getting an MPO and a CPO and how long the orders may last are quite different in both systems. There is no “due process” for issuing an MPO, which means that the abuser does not have to be served with notice, does not have the right to a hearing, and does not have the right to testify. Therefore, the order is typically short-term. A short-term MPO may be a challenge when the parties share custody of minor children. If you are concerned for the safety of your children while you seek safety from domestic violence, be sure to work with your victim advocate to address this issue. Commanders can tailor MPOs to the specific needs of victims, and they even have the authority to order the service member to not contact your children.
If you have an MPO and you live outside the military installation, it is important to know that civilian law enforcement cannot legally enforce the MPO. Civilian law enforcement may, but are not required to, contact the service member’s command to inform them of the breach of an MPO. Civilian law enforcement can only legally enforce CPOs. See our Military Protective Orders section for more information on MPOs, including enforcement of MPOs.