Legal Information: Federal

Domestic Violence in the Military

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Updated: 
June 25, 2013

What is a military protective order (MPO)?

Unit commanders may issue military protective orders (MPOs) to an active duty Service member to protect a victim of domestic abuse/ violence or child abuse (the victim could be a Service member or a civilian). To qualify, you must be the spouse/ ex-spouse, current or former intimate partner, or have a child in common with the abuser. A victim, victim advocate, installation law enforcement agency, or FAP clinician may request a commander to issue an MPO.1

MPOs may order the abuser (referred to as "the subject") to:

  • have no contact or communication (including face-to-face, by telephone, in writing, or through a third party) with you or members of the your family or household;
  • stay away from the family home (whether it is on or off the installation);
  • stay away from the children's schools, child development centers, youth programs and your place of employment;
  • move into government quarters (barracks);
  • leave any public place if the victim is in the same location or facility;
  • do certain activities or stop doing certain activities;
  • attend counseling; and
  • to surrender his/her government weapons custody card.1

Commanders may tailor the order to meet your specific needs.1

An MPO is only enforceable 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. If the victim still believes that the MPO is necessary to keep him or her safe, the victim, a victim advocate, a FAP staff member may ask the commander who issued the MPO to contact the new commander to advise him or her of the MPO and to request the issuance of a new one.2 The commander who issued the MPO is supposed to recommend to the new command that a new MPO is issued when the Service member is transferred to a new command and an MPO is still necessary to protect the victim.3

Civilian abusers cannot be subject to MPOs. They may only be subject to a civil protection order issued by a state or tribal court. However, a commanding officer may order that the civilian abuser stay away from the installation.1

Make sure that you get the MPO in writing from the commanding officer so that you can have it with you at all times.

1 "The Military Response to Victims of Domestic Violence, Tools for Civilian Advocates," published by the Battered Women's Justice Project, www.bwjp.org
2Department of Defense Instruction, Number 6400.06, Incorporating Change 1, September 20, 2011
3Department of Defense Instruction, Number 6400.06, Incorporating Change 1, September 20, 2011, section 6.1.2.7