Legal Information: Michigan

Restraining Orders

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December 7, 2020

If I don’t have a hard copy of my out-of-state order, how can law enforcement enforce it?

To enforce an out-of-state order, law enforcement typically may rely on the National Crime Information Center Protection Order File (NCIC-POF). The NCIC-POF is a nationwide, electronic database that contains information about orders of protection that were issued in each state and territory in the U.S. The Protection Order File (POF) contains court orders that are issued to prevent acts of domestic violence, or to prevent someone from stalking, intimidating, or harassing another person. It contains orders issued by both civil and criminal state courts. The types of protection orders issued and the information contained in them vary from state to state.1

There is no way for the general public to access the NCIC-POF. That means you cannot confirm a protection order is in the registry or add a protection order to the registry without the help of a government agency that has access to it.

Typically, the state police or criminal justice agency in the state has the responsibility of reporting protection orders to NCIC. However, in some cases, the courts have taken on that role and they manage the protection order reporting process.2 NCIC–POF is used by law enforcement agencies when they need to verify and enforce an out-of-state protection order. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

However, not all states routinely enter protection orders into the NCIC. Instead, some states may enter the orders only in their own state protection order registry, which would not be accessible to law enforcement in other states. According to a 2016 report by the National Center for State Courts, more than 700,000 protection orders that were registered in state protection order databases were not registered in the federal NCIC Protection Order File.2 This means that if a law enforcement officer is trying to enforce a protection order from another state that is missing from the NCIC, the victim would likely need to show the officer a hard copy of the order to get it immediately enforced. If you no longer have a copy of your original order, you may want to contact the court that issued the order to ask them how you can get another copy sent to you.

1 National Center for Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit
2 See State Progress in Record Reporting for Firearm-Related Background Checks: Protection Order Submissions, prepared by the National Center for State Courts, April 2016

How do I register my protection order in Michigan?

There is currently no uniform procedure for registering an out-of-state order in a Michigan courthouse unless the abuser has violated the order while you have been in Michigan. If the abuser has violated the order, you can file a motion and order to show cause for violating a foreign order and the court will start a new case and hold a violation hearing.

However, it is possible that a specific county may have its own registration process. To find out more about registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Michigan for assistance or your local courthouse. You can find contact information for domestic violence organizations in your area here on our MI Advocates and Shelters page and for courthouses on our MI Courthouse Locations page.

Do I have to register my protection order in Michigan in order to get it enforced?

No. Michigan state law gives full protection to an out-of-state (“foreign”) protection order as long as you can show the officer a copy of the order and can truthfully tell the officer that you believe the order is still in effect.1 It does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by a Michigan police officer, but the officer does need to believe that it is a valid (real) order.2

1 Mich. Laws §§ 600.2950j(1); 600.2950l(3)
2 Mich. Laws § 600.2950l(4)

Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1 However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to. It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living. We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Tips page. You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our MI Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

If I don't register my protection order, will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

Neither federal law nor state law requires that you register your protection order for it to be enforced. However, if your order is not entered into the state registry and you do not have a copy of it with you, a Michigan law enforcement officer will have to try to verify the order in some other way (such as contacting the state that gave you the order).1 This process can take time, meaning it might take longer to have your order enforced, and if the official cannot verify your order, it might not be enforced.2

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Michigan. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in MI, go to our MI Advocates and Shelters page.

1 MCL § 600.2950l(5)
2 MCL § 600.2950l(7)

Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

The law is clear that there can be no fee charged to register a custody order from another state in a Michigan courthouse1 but there is not a similar law that specifically says that no fee can be charged to register a foreign protection order in a Michigan courthouse. You may want to call the clerk at the courthouse to see if there is a fee or not. Go to our MI Courthouse Locations page for contact information.

1 MCR 3.214(D)

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