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Legal Information: Michigan

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
December 15, 2018

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Michigan?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a domestic relationship personal protection order (“PPO”).

A judge can issue a domestic relationship PPO when the judge believes that a current or former spouse, someone with whom you have a child in common, someone you are/were dating, or someone who lives/lived in the same household as you may commit any of the following acts:

  • Entering (unlawfully) onto premises;
  • Assaulting, attacking, beating, molesting, or wounding you;
  • Threatening to kill or physically injure you;
  • Unlawfully removing minor children from you when you have legal custody of them and removing them is not permitted in the custody or parenting time order;
  • Purchasing or possessing a firearm;
  • Interfering with your efforts to remove your children or personal property from premises that are solely owned or leased by the abuser;
  • Interfering with you at your job or school or acting in a way that harms your job or school relationship or environment;
  • Having access to information in records concerning a minor child of both you and the abuser that will tell the abuser about the address or telephone number of you/your child or about your work address;
  • Committing stalking or aggravated stalking against you (even if s/he is not arrested for those crimes);
  • Injuring, killing, torturing, neglecting (or threatening to injure, kill, torture, or neglect) an animal in which you have an ownership interest, with the intent to cause you mental distress or to exert control over you; or
  • Any other specific act or behavior that interferes with your personal liberty or that causes a reasonable fear of violence.1

1 MCLA 600.2950(1),(4)

What is a domestic relationship PPO and what types are there?

“Domestic relationship personal protection order” is the name Michigan uses for restraining orders in cases of domestic violence.  A domestic relationship personal protection order (PPO) is a civil court order that is designed to stop violent and harassing behavior and to protect you and your family from an abuser. To qualify, you must have a specific relationship with the abuser and s/he must have committed or be likely to commit specific acts – see What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Michigan? for more information.

When you apply for your PPO, a judge can issue you an ex parte domestic relationship PPO without a full court hearing and without the abuser present.  The judge has to decide whether or not to grant your request for an ex parte order within 24 hours of when you file the petition.2  An ex parte PPO should be issued (and effective) without prior notice to the abuser or his/her attorney if you can clearly show that immediate and irreversible injury, loss, or damage will result from the delay that would be required to notify the abuser or that the notice will itself cause you harm before a PPO can be issued.1  An ex parte domestic relationship PPO is valid for at least 182 days (approximately 6 months).  The abuser can request a hearing to modify (change) or rescind (cancel) the PPO.3  If the judge issues you a PPO after this hearing, it would be called a final domestic relationship PPO.

1 MCLA 600.2950(12)
2 MCR 3.705(A)(1)
3 MCLA 600.2950(13)

What protections can I get in a domestic relationship PPO?

In a domestic relationship personal protection order, a judge may order the abuser to:

  • not go into a specific place;
  • stop assaulting, attacking, beating, molesting or wounding you;
  • stop threatening to kill or physically injure you;
  • not remove minor children from you when you have legal custody of them and removing them is not permitted in the custody or parenting time order;
  • stop stalking you;
  • stop contacting you or harassing you at your workplace, residence, school, child’s daycare (you must specifically request these places);
  • not attend school in the same building as you – but this only applies if you are a minor who has been the victim of sexual assault and you and the abuser are both enrolled in a public or private school (from kindergarten to 12th grade);
  • not buy or have in his/her possession a firearm;
  • not interfere with your efforts to remove your children or personal property from premises that are solely owned or leased by the abuser;
  • not interfere with you at your job or school or act in a way that harms your job or school relationship or environment;
  • not have access to information in records concerning a minor child of both you and the abuser that will tell the abuser about the address or telephone number of you/your child or about your work address;
  • not commit stalking or aggravated stalking against you;
  • not do (or threaten to do) any of the following with the intent to cause you mental distress or to exert control over you: injure, kill, torture, or neglect an animal in which you have an ownership interest; not remove the animal from your possession or take/keep the animal; and
  • not do any other specific act or behavior that interferes with your personal liberty or that causes a reasonable fear of violence.1

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

1 MCL 600.2950(1)

When will my PPO go into effect?

As soon as a judge signs a PPO, it can be enforced anywhere in Michigan. Once the abuser has been served with paperwork notifying him/her of the PPO, it can be enforced throughout the U.S.1

1 MCLA 600.2950(9)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.