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Legal Information: Federal

Domestic Violence in the Military

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Updated: 
October 9, 2019

What are the steps for getting an MPO?

The best place to start is usually with the Family Advocate Program (FAP) victim advocate on the installation but any of the following people can ask the commander to issue a military protective order (MPO):

  • a victim of abuse;
  • a victim advocate;
  • installation law enforcement; or
  • a Family Advocacy Program (FAP) clinician.

You can visit the FAP locator on the Military One Source website for FAP contact information. To read more about the process for getting an MPO issued, go to What will the process be like for getting an MPO? Will I have to be in the same room as the abuser?

Once an MPO is issued, it should be written and you should receive a copy of the MPO from the commander. Be sure to ask for a written copy if you don’t receive one.

The military police, the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) office, the Military Criminal Investigative Organization, or the FAP are all resources you can contact for guidance. For more information on how to get help for domestic abuse, go to I am experiencing abuse in my relationship. How do I get help in the military system?

What will the process be like for getting an MPO? Will I have to be in the same room as the abuser?

Unlike civil court, there is no trial or hearing when you get a military protective order (MPO). Therefore, you will not have to appear in front of a judge, testify in front of the abuser, or even be in the same room as him/her.

The commander is the one who decides whether or not to issue an MPO. The commander may or may not meet with you before issuing the MPO. Often times, the victim advocate or the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) clinician may call the commander on your behalf to ask for the MPO. If you feel it is important to speak with the commander directly, you may contact their office to request an appointment. The appointment may take place in the commander’s office, at the FAP office, or another place where you can feel safe to speak freely to the commander. If the commander has a reasonable belief that an MPO is necessary for your safety, s/he will issue one.

How much does an MPO cost?

There is no cost to file for or get a military protective order (MPO).

What can I do if I am not granted an MPO?

Usually, commanders will issue a military protective order (MPO) if the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) recommends it as part of its safety and risk assessment. However, if you are not granted an MPO, you may still be eligible for a civil protection order issued by the civil court in the state where you live.

Unlike civil protection order proceedings, there is no appeals process in the military if you are denied an MPO or if you disagree with the decision of the commanding officer. You may seek assistance in a variety of ways if the MPO is denied, and you may continue to inform the commander of further abuse, but you cannot “appeal” the decision.

Visit our Restraining Orders page to find out if you may be eligible for a civil protection order.

What can I do if the abuser violates the MPO?

If the abuser violates the MPO while s/he is on the installation, you can call the military police (the Installation Law Enforcement Office). If you are off the installation and you are in danger, you can call 911 to reach the civilian police. Although the police cannot enforce the MPO, they can arrest the abuser if a crime is committed. You can also ask the civilian police to contact Installation Law Enforcement regarding the violation of the MPO. Installation Law Enforcement will then notify the service member’s commander.1 You may also want to contact your Family Advocacy Program (FAP) victim advocate to report the violation of the MPO, as this may suggest that the level of risk for further abuse has increased.

An MPO is only enforceable on the military base or installation and only while the service member is attached to the command that issued the order. When the service member is transferred to a new command, the order will no longer be valid.

A violation of an MPO, on or off the installation, is the same as disobeying a direct order, which is a serious offense within the military. The abuser can be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice – under Article 92, Failure to Obey Order or Regulation. Depending on a number of factors, a violation of an MPO may result in non-judicial punishment, court-martial proceedings, or other disciplinary measures.

For information on what happens if the service member violates the MPO off of the installation, go to Are MPOs and civil protection orders (CPOs) valid wherever I go?

1 Department of Defense Instruction, Number 6400.06, Incorporating Change 4, May 26, 2017