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Legal Information: Federal

Domestic Violence in the Military

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Laws current as of June 21, 2024

What are the steps for getting an MPO?

A Family Advocacy Program (FAP) victim advocate can support a victim in requesting that an MPO be issued by a commander. Any of the following people can also 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.

On the Military One Source website, you can find FAP contact information or use the DoD Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator to find a local domestic abuse victim advocate. 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, 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 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 a military protective order (MPO) is issued. 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 his/her 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 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. You may also consider getting a civilian protective order (CPO) in addition to an MPO.

How much does an MPO cost?

There is no cost to 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. It may also be possible to escalate your request for an MPO up the chain of command, starting with the commander’s immediate superior in command (ISIC).

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 military protective order (MPO) while s/he is on the installation, you can call the military police at the Installation Law Enforcement Office. Installation Law Enforcement will then notify the Service member’s commander. 

If you are off the installation and you are in danger, you can call 911 to reach the civilian police. Although the civilian police cannot enforce the MPO, they can arrest the abuser if a crime is committed under the state’s penal law. You can also ask the civilian police to contact Installation Law Enforcement regarding the violation of the MPO.

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.

It is important to also consider getting a civil protection order if you are concerned for your safety.

A violation of an MPO, on or off the installation, is disobedience of a direct order, which is a serious offense within the military. The abuser can be prosecuted under Article 92, Failure to Obey Order or Regulation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Depending on a number of factors, a violation of an MPO may result in non-judicial punishment, court-martial proceedings, or other disciplinary measures.1

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 See Department of Defense Instruction, Number 6400.06