What is a mutual order and how can it hurt me?
A “mutual” order of protection prohibits BOTH parties from abusing, molesting, or interfering with the privacy or rights of each other. It may order that BOTH parties not contact each other.
If you file for a PFA and the defendant (the abuser) files and serves you with a counter-petition saying that you have abused him/her, there are generally two ways in which mutual order may be issued:
- the judge would hold a hearing where both you and the abuser present evidence; the judge must believe that you both were primary aggressors and neither of you acted in self-defense; or
- If you agree or consent to a mutual order without having a hearing.1
Many times the judges or lawyers will encourage people to consent to an order against them using the rationale that “if you do not plan on violating the order, it shouldn’t bother you to have an order against you.” However, this way of thinking can be dangerous. If the abuser gets the restraining order, s/he can easily try to falsely report a violation or trick you into violating the order so that you get arrested, which can have consequences on future custody cases, restraining order cases, or immigration matters. A judge cannot force you to consent, however. You have the right to a hearing where you can defend yourself and then the judge will have to decide if the abuser proved his/her case against you.
If a counter-petition is filed against you or if you are urged to consent to a mutual order, think seriously about getting an attorney to help you. Go to our KS Finding a Lawyer page.
1 Kan. Stat. § 60-3107(b)