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Legal Information: Missouri

Missouri Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

Orders of Protection due to Domestic Violence

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Missouri?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting an order of protection.

For the purpose of filing for an order of protection, domestic violence is when a family or household member:

  1. commits stalking; or
  2. commits, attempts to commit, or threatens to commit abuse, which is defined as any of the following acts:1
  • Assault: purposely placing or attempting to place you in fear of physical harm;
  • Battery: purposely causing physical harm to you with or without a deadly weapon;
  • Coercion: using force or a threat of force to make you do something or to stop you from doing something;
  • Harassment: committing acts (more than once) that causes you or your child alarm or substantial emotional distress and serves no legitimate purpose. For example:
    • following you or your child in a public place;
    • peering in the window or lingering outside your home;
  • Sexual assault: causing or attempting to cause you to engage involuntarily in any sexual act by force, threat of force, duress (coercion/pressure), or without your consent;
  • Unlawful imprisonment: holding, confining, detaining or abducting you against your will.2

Stalking is defined as when someone purposely acts in a way that reasonably causes you alarm and that serves no legitimate purpose. The actions must occur two or more times. Examples of stalking behavior are repeatedly following you or making unwanted communication / contact with you.3

1 MO ST §§ 455.010(5); 455.020(1)
2 MO ST § 455.010(1)
3 MO ST § 455.010(14)

What types of orders of protection are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of orders:

1) Ex parte orders of protection - Ex parte is Latin for “from one side.”  A judge can grant you an ex parte order if you prove there is “good cause” to do so.  “Good cause” can be when the judge believes there is an immediate and present danger of abuse to you.1  A judge may grant you the order based solely on your petition and testimony, without holding a hearing.  Ex parte orders may be granted without the abuser’s prior knowledge and without his/her presence in court.

An ex parte order generally will be valid until your court hearing for a full order of protection, which usually takes place within 15 days.2

If you ask for an ex parte order but the judge doesn’t give you one, you may get a “Notice of Hearing” instead.  Although this is not an order protecting you, it does mean you have a date and time for a hearing, where the judge will decide whether or not to grant you a full order of protection. To get a full order of protection, you will need to prove your allegations of domestic violence to the judge. 

Note: If you desire, you can receive a notification when the ex parte order is served on the abuser.3  Ask the clerk for information on how to get this notification.

2) Full orders of protection - A full order of protection can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story.  If you prove to the judge that you were the victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault, you can get an order of protection that will last for a period of time between 180 days and one year.2  Full orders may be extended for a longer period of time.  For more information, see How do I extend, change or dismiss an order of protection?

1 MO ST § 455.035(1)
2 See MO ST § 455.040(1)
3 MO ST § 455.038

How will the judge decide custody and visitation in a full order of protection?

If the court makes a custody decision in a hearing for a full order of protection, the judge should assume that it is in the child’s best interests for the non-abusive parent to get custody. If there is evidence that both parents have been abusive to each other, the judge will not make this assumption. Instead, the judge can appoint a guardian ad litem or a court-appointed special advocate to represent the child and will consider all other factors that are normally considered in a custody case.1

When deciding visitation in a hearing for a full order of protection, the judge should give the non-custodial parent visitation rights unless the judge believes that one of the following is true:

  • visitation would endanger the child’s physical health;
  • visitation would negatively affect the child’s emotional development;
  • visitation would otherwise conflict with the best interests of the child; or
  • that it is not possible to have visitation and still be able to protect the custodial parent from further abuse.2

The court may appoint a guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate to represent the minor child whenever the custodial parent alleges that visitation with the noncustodial parent will damage the minor child.2

Note: An order of protection cannot change the custody of children when an action for dissolution of marriage (divorce) has been filed or when a judge has previously awarded custody to a parent.3

1 MO ST § 455.050(5)
2 MO ST § 455.050(6)
3 MO ST § 455.060(6)

What protections can I get in an order of protection due to domestic violence?

An ex parte order of protection can do the following:

  • Forbid the abuser from committing or threatening to commit domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, molesting you or disturbing your peace;
  • Forbid the abuser from entering your home when it is:
    • Jointly owned, leased or rented or jointly occupied by you and the abuser; or
    • Owned, leased, rented or occupied by you individually; or
    • Jointly owned, leased or rented by you and someone else (not the abuser); or
    • Jointly occupied by you and someone else (not the abuser) as long as the abuser does not have a property interest in the home;
  • Forbid the abuser from communicating with you in any manner or through any medium (i.e., phone, computer, etc.);
  • Make a temporary order of custody of your minor children where appropriate;1 and/or
  • Include such other terms as the judge reasonably believes are necessary to ensure your safety.2

A full order of protection (after notice to the abuser and a hearing) can:

  • Include all of the terms listed above; AND
  • Order any of the following (as long as your petition has facts/allegations relating to these topics and your petition specifically asks for them):3
    • Award custody of any minor child born to or adopted by the parties when:
      • the court has jurisdiction (power) over such child;
      • no prior order regarding custody is pending or has been made; and
      • the best interests of the child require that a custody order be issued;
    • Establish a visitation schedule that is in the best interests of the child;
    • Order the abuser to pay child support;
    • Order the abuser to pay spousal support (maintenance) for up to 180 days if you are legally married;4
    • If you are married to or have children together, the judge can order the abuser to make rent or mortgage payments on the home in which you are living or on a different home (rather than the one you lived in with the abuser) if you choose;
    • Give you temporary possession of personal property, such as cars, checkbooks, keys, and other personal items;
    • Prohibit the abuser from transferring, selling or getting rid of property mutually owned or leased by you and the abuser;
    • Order the abuser to participate in batterers’ counseling or drug treatment;
    • Order the abuser to pay a reasonable fee for housing and other services that are/were provided to you by a domestic violence shelter;
    • Order the abuser to pay court costs;
    • Order the abuser to pay the cost of medical treatment and services that are/were provided to you as a result of injuries due to domestic violence committed by the abuser;5
    • Order the abuser to pay your attorney’s fees;6 and/or
    • Direct a wireless service provider to transfer the rights to, and billing responsibility for, any wireless service (cell phone) number(s) that you or any minor children in your care use, if you are not already the account holder.7

1 MO ST § 455.045
2 MO ST § 455.050.1
3 MO ST § 455.050.4
4 MO ST § 455.050.8
5 MO ST § 455.050.3
6 MO ST § 455.075
7 MO ST §§ 455.050.9(1); 455.523.2(9)

In which county can I file for an order of protection?

You can file a petition in the county where you live, in the county where the domestic violence took place, or in any county where the defendant can be served with the petition.1 Note: The order of protection can be issued in a Missouri court even if you are in Missouri on a temporary basis as long as the domestic violence has occurred, has been attempted, or has been threatened within the state of Missouri. If there was additional domestic violence that happened outside of Missouri, you can include these incidents as a way to demonstrate your need for protection.2

1 MO ST § 455.015
2 MO ST § 455.032

How much does it cost to get an order of protection? Do I need a lawyer?

There are no fees to you for filing for an order of protection due to domestic violence.1  After a hearing for a full order of protection, the judge could order the respondent (the abuser) to pay court costs.2  Also, the judge could order the abuser to pay your attorney’s fees.3

You do not need an attorney to file for an order of protection, but it may be better to have one if you can, especially if you think the abuser will have one.  You can find free and paid legal referrals on our MO Finding a Lawyer page.

In many places, local domestic violence or sexual assault programs and/or clerks’ offices can help you file for an order of protection.  You will find a list of places that might be able to help you on the MO Advocates and Shelters page. You will find contact info for court clerks at the MO Courthouse Locations page.

1 MO ST § 455.027
2 MO ST § 455.050(3)
3 MO ST § 455.075

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

Can I get an order of protection when the courthouse is closed?

Yes.  When the circuit court is unavailable after business hours or on holidays or weekends, you can file a petition for an order of protection (or a motion for a hearing on a violation of any order of protection) before any available court in the city or county having jurisdiction to hear the petition and an ex parte order of protection can be issued.1   During hours when the circuit court is closed, a clerk and judge must be on call to process petitions in cases of emergency.  In St. Louis City and County, the filing is done at a police station when the courthouse is closed.  In some of the outlying counties, it is done by the Sheriff’s Dept. Go to MO Sheriff Departments to find the one in your county.

MO ST § 455.030(1)

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.

Who can get an order of protection

Can I get an order of protection?

You could qualify for an order of protection due to domestic violence if the abuser has committed domestic violence, as defined by law, and the abuser is a family or household member, which means:

  • a spouse/ ex-spouse;
  • someone you live/d with;
  • anyone related to you by blood or marriage;
  • someone you are dating or have dated;
  • someone who you have a child in common with (even if you never lived together and never married).1

If the person abusing you does not fall into one of these categories, you may be able to get an order of protection against him/her if s/he is stalking you or has sexually assaulted you.  For an order of protection due to stalking or sexual assault, you can have any relationship with the offender.2

Note: The order of protection can be issued in a Missouri court even if you are in Missouri on a temporary basis as long as the domestic violence has occurred, has been attempted, or has been threatened within the state of Missouri.  If there was additional domestic violence that happened outside of Missouri, you can include these incidents as a way to demonstrate your need for protection.3

1 MO ST § 455.010(7)
2 MO ST § 455.010(11)
3 MO ST § 455.032

Can I get an order of protection against a minor?

Anyone (an adult or a minor) can get an order of protection against a minor, which is someone under age 17. (Unlike most states, in Missouri, age 17 is considered to be an adult).1 An ex parte order of protection (or an order of protection for a child) can be issued against a minor in circuit court and then the case will be transferred to juvenile court for the hearing on a full order of protection.2 The judge will appoint a guardian ad litem for any minor respondent who is not represented by a parent or guardian.3

Note: When serving an order against a minor, his/her custodial parent, guardian or guardian ad litem must be served (unless the minor is emancipated). The court papers will require that the parent/guardian appear in court and bring the minor-respondent to court at the time and place stated.4

1 MO ST § 455.010(3)
2 MO ST §§ 455.035(3); 455.513(4)
3 MO ST § 455.035(3)
4 MO ST § 455.035(2)

Can a minor get an order of protection?

A minor can get an order but the minor cannot file on his/her own.1 The minor’s parent, guardian, guardian ad litem, court-appointed special advocate or juvenile officer would have to file a petition for a child order of protection (also called an “order of protection for a child”) on the minor child’s behalf.2 An order of protection for a child may be available to a child who has been subject to domestic violence by a present or former household member or for a child who has been stalked or sexually assaulted.3

Note: Missouri law defines a “child” as someone who is under 17 and an “adult” as someone age 17 and older (or a minor who is emancipated).1 However, the information about child orders of protection on the Missouri Courts website says that the order applies to anyone who is 17 or younger. If a 17-year old wants to file for an order of protection on his/her own (without a parent or guardian), s/he may want to bring a copy of the law that defines an adult as someone 17 or older.

A minor may also be included on his/her parent’s petition for order of protection if the parent is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and the minor is a child of the petitioner and respondent.

Note: There are slight variations in the laws between orders of protection for a child mentioned in this question and the orders of protection (for adults) that are explained throughout this entire section of WomensLaw.org. To read the laws that specifically address orders of protection for a child, you can go to our Selected Missouri Statutes page and scroll down to the section called “Child Protection Orders,” beginning with section 455.500.

1 See MO ST § 455.010(2)
2 MO ST § 455.503(2)
3 MO ST § 455.505(1)

Can I get an order of protection against a same-sex partner?

In Missouri, you may apply for an order of protection against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Can I get an order of protection?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Missouri?

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

What if I don't qualify for an order of protection?

If you don’t qualify for an order of protection due to domestic violence, you might qualify for an order of protection due to stalking or sexual assault.  Go to Orders of Protection due to Stalking or Sexual Assault for more information.

Also, you might still be able to pursue criminal charges against the offender.  Assault, stalking, and harassment can be against the law – no matter who the abuser is.  If one of these crimes is being committed against you, you may want to report it to law enforcement.  If charges are pressed against the abuser, a judge may be able to order him/her to stay away from you.  You can also visit our Safety Tips page for ways to increase your safety.

Orders of protection also may not cover many types of emotional or mental abuse.  If you’re being mentally or emotionally abused, you may want to contact a domestic violence organization in your area. They may be able to help you figure out your options and offer you support.  To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the MO Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.

Steps for getting an order of protection

Step 1: Get and file the necessary forms.

To get the forms, go to the circuit court in the county where you live, where the domestic violence occurred, or any county where the abuser can be served.1  You can find the locations of these courthouses on our MO Courthouse Locations page.  You can also find links to petitions online by going to our MO Download Court Forms page.

You can go to the civil court clerk and request a petition for a full order of protection, and also tell the clerk if you want an ex parte order.  You will want to carefully fill out the petition, explaining the incidents of violence, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, choking, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation.  Be specific.  Include details and dates, if possible.  A domestic violence agency may be able to provide you with help in filling out the forms.  To find an advocate or an organization near you please visit the MO Advocates and Shelters page.  If you need to file for an order of protection when the circuit court is closed, you can.  See Can I get an order of protection when the courthouse is closed? for more information.

If the abuser doesn’t know your address, you can ask the clerk how you can keep your address confidential.  If you are asked to give a mailing address, you may not have to if you allege that you, or other family or household members would be in danger if you give an address.  Also, the law says that you cannot be required to give your Social Security number on any document that the abuser may have access to (i.e., the petition).2

Please remember not to sign the petition until you have shown it to a clerk, as the form may need to be notarized or signed in the presence of court personnel.  Also, you may need to bring photo ID for the notary.  It may also help to have some information about the abuser such as a photo, addresses of residence and employment, any history of drugs or gun ownership, etc.

1 MO ST §§ 455.073(1)(2), 455.015
2 MO ST § 455.030(3)

Step 2: A judge will review your petition.

Once you file your petition, the clerk will forward it to a judge.  The judge may wish to ask you questions as s/he reviews your petition.  Based on what you wrote in your petition, the judge will decide whether or not to issue you an ex parte order. A judge can grant you an ex parte order if you prove there is “good cause” to do so.  “Good cause” can be when the judge believes there is an immediate and present danger of abuse to you.1

Whether or not you get an ex parte order, you will likely receive a “notice of hearing,” which will state the date and time when you must go back to court for your full order of protection hearing.  This hearing usually takes place within 15 days.2

Note: Remember that even if you do not receive an ex parte order, you may still receive a full order of protection at the hearing. You MUST go to the hearing, as stated on your notice of hearing, in order to get the full order of protection. If you do not attend the hearing, your case may be dismissed.  It may be best to have a lawyer for the hearing, especially if you think the abuser may have one.  Go to our MO Finding a Lawyer page for free and paid legal referrals.

1 MO ST § 455.035(1)
2 See MO ST § 455.040(1)

Step 3: Service of process

Just as you received a notice of hearing, the abuser (who the court will call “the respondent”) will also receive the same notice of hearing so s/he knows when to show up for the hearing. The abuser must be “served” with the notice of the hearing along with a copy of the petition that you filed and your ex parte order, if you received one. The court is supposed to arrange for service by any sheriff or police officer at least three days prior to such hearing.1 You cannot serve the abuser yourself.

Law enforcement personnel will also enter any protection orders into the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES) within 24 hours of when the order is issued.2

1 MO ST § 455.040(2)
2 MO ST § 455.040(3)

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

Step 4: The hearing for the full order of protection

If you want to get a full order of protection, you must go to the hearing.  If you do not go to the hearing, the court may dismiss your case. If you received an ex parte order, it will expire and you will have to start the process over.  If you do not show up at the hearing it may even possibly be harder for you to be granted an order in the future. 

At the hearing, both you and your abuser will have the chance to present evidence, witnesses, and give testimony to prove your case. You must prove that the abuser has committed the act(s) of domestic violence (as defined by the law) that you alleged in your petition.  You must also convince a judge that you need protection and the specific things you asked for in the order.  See the Preparing Your Case section for ways you can show the judge that you were abused. You can learn more about the court system in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section.  The judge will then decide whether or not to grant you a final order of protection.  If the abuser was served but does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you an order of protection or the judge may order a new hearing date.  You may want a lawyer for the hearing, especially if you think the abuser will have one.  For free and paid lawyers, go to our MO Finding a Lawyer page.

 

After the hearing

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Missouri have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some possible ideas of things you may want to do when preparing to leave the courthouse.  Not all will apply to everyone.  Please consider which ones you think may help you.  

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your workplace, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a picture of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in, and protected by, the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, you may want to take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school.  Many batterers obey orders for protection, but some do not.  It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  For more information please visit the Safety Tips page.  Advocates at local domestic violence programs can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

You can call the police or sheriff to report the violation, even if you think it is a minor violation.  When a law enforcement officer believes that the abuser has committed an act of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking in violation of an order of protection, the officer is supposed to arrest the abuser even if the officer didn’t witness the incident.1  Also, if you get awarded custody of your children as part of your order of protection, and the abuser does not return the children to you, the police are supposed to arrest the abuser and give you your children.2

If the abuser violates any of the following terms of an ex parte or full order of protection, it can be a class A misdemeanor (or, if the abuser has previously pleaded/been found guilty of a prior violation within the past 5 years, it can be a class D felony): 

  • s/he commits domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking;
  • s/he violates a term regarding child custody;
  • s/he initiates communication with you;
  • s/he enters your home, place of employment or school; or
  • s/he comes within a certain distance of you or your child.3

It is generally a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge numbers in case you want to follow up on your case.  Note: You do not need a certified copy of your order to show to the police; any copy of the order is enough.4

Another option you may have is to file a motion for civil contempt and/or for criminal contempt in court. This can be difficult to do on your own, so it may be a good idea to try to get a lawyer to help you if you can. Some courts have fill-in-the-blank motions, which you can use if you do not have an attorney.  Although there is a filing fee for these motions, it can be waived if you fill out another form (called a motion to file in forma pauperis) explaining why you can’t pay.

A motion for civil contempt generally applies when the abuser has not violated the order of protection – not by abusing you, but rather s/he has not followed one of the other parts of the order (which generally are not enforced by the police).  For example, s/he didn’t pay the child support that s/he was ordered to pay.  The abuser will be served with the motion and have a chance to appear in court at a hearing.  In the hearing, you will present your evidence saying how the abuser violated the order and s/he will get a chance to respond.  If the judge finds that s/he did violate the order, s/he can be held in contempt and punished until s/he follows the order.

A person may file a motion for criminal contempt in cases where the abuser is criminally violating the order of protection, by continuing to abuse you, for example. The process is generally the same as for the motion for civil contempt however it may be more complicated to do on your own.  For legal help, go to our MO Finding a Lawyer page.

1 MO ST § 455.085(2)
2 MO ST § 455.085(5)
3 MO ST § 455.085(7),(8)
4 MO ST § 455.083

How do I extend, change or dismiss an order of protection?

Extending an order
Your full order of protection can include a term that allows it to automatically renew unless the abuser files an objection/requests a hearing within thirty days before the expiration of the order. If the abuser does file an objection/request a hearing, you are supposed to be personally served with these papers at least 3 days before the hearing date.1

If your order does not allow for an automatic renewal, you can file a motion to renew your order. After holding a hearing, the judge can renew it for between 180 days and 1 year. There does not have to be a new incident of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking to renew your order.2 In order to avoid any lapse in your protection, it is usually a good idea to file for your extension at least two weeks before your first order of protection expires. In the event that your first full order expires before you are able to schedule a hearing on extending it, the court may grant you an ex parte order to protect you until your next hearing.2

Changing an order
To modify (change) an order, either party can file a motion (legal papers) to modify the order. You would have to include an affidavit (sworn statement) that explains that there has been a change in circumstances that calls for the modification you are requesting. The judge would hold a hearing to decide whether or not to grant the modification.3

Dismissing an order
If you want to dismiss/terminate your order, you can file a motion to dismiss. The judge has the option to hold a hearing where s/he can question you or others to to decide whether or not to you are voluntarily asking to dismiss it (i.e., that you are not being pressured into it by the abuser).4

1 MO ST § 455.040(4)
2 MO ST § 455.040(1)
3 MO ST § 455.060(1)
4 MO ST § 455.060(5)

What happens if I move?

Your order of protection is valid everywhere in the state.  Additionally, federal law provides what is called “full faith and credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.  Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders.  You can find out about your state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your area.  You may also call the National Center on Full Faith and Credit and Protection Orders (1-800-903-0111) for information on enforcing your order out of state.  We have general information about enforcing your order in another state on our Moving to Another State with an Order of Protection page. 

You may want to call the clerk’s office at the court where you originally received the order to tell them your new address so that they can contact you if necessary.  This may be especially important if your order allows for an automatic renewal so that you can receive the notice of the hearing date if the abuser files an objection/ request for a hearing to the order being automatically renewed.

Missouri has a process for registering orders issued by another state, tribe, territory, or possession of the U.S.  You can register your order in MO although it is not required - a certified foreign order of protection can still be enforced in MO.   To register an order, you must file a certified copy of the foreign order and an affidavit or sworn statement that the copy is a true and accurate copy and has not been altered by the circuit court having jurisdiction. You must notify the court if the order terminates prior to the date on the order. There is no fee for filing the order.1

1 MO ST § 455.067(2)-(4)

Orders of Protection due to Stalking or Sexual Assault

A civil order that provides protection against someone who stalked or sexually assaulted you, regardless of your relationship to that person.

Basic info and definitions

What is the definition of stalking in Missouri?

For the purpose of getting a protective order, stalking is defined as when any person purposely and more than once behaves in a way that:

  • serves no legitimate purpose; and
  • causes you to reasonably fear that you are in danger of being physically harmed.1

The acts that a stalker could do may include, but are not limited to, following you or making unwanted communication or unwanted contact with you.1

1 MO ST § 455.010(14)

What is the legal definition of sexual assault?

For the purpose of getting a protective order, sexual assault is defined as when someone causes you or attempts to cause you to engage involuntarily in any sexual act by force, threat of force, duress (coercion/pressure), or without your consent.1

1 MO ST § 455.010(13),(1)(e)

What protections can I get in an order of protection due to stalking or sexual assault?

An ex parte order of protection can do the following:

  • Forbid the abuser from abusing, threatening to abuse, molesting, sexually assaulting, or stalking you or disturbing your peace;
  • Forbid the abuser from entering your home when it is:
    • Jointly owned, leased or rented or jointly occupied by you and the abuser; or
    • Owned, leased, rented or occupied by you individually; or
    • Jointly owned, leased or rented by you and someone else (not the abuser); or
    • Jointly occupied by you and someone else (not the abuser) as long as the abuser does not have a property interest in the home;
  • Forbid the abuser from communicating with you in any manner or through any medium (i.e., phone, computer, etc.);
  • Make a temporary order of custody of your minor children where appropriate;1 and/or
  • Include such other terms as the judge reasonably believes are necessary to ensure your safety.2

A full order of protection can:

  • Include all of the terms listed above AND
  • Additionally, after a hearing, a full order of protection can order any of the following as long as your petition has facts/allegations relating to these topics and your petition must specifically ask for the things below that you want:3
    • Award custody of any minor child born to or adopted by the parties when:
      • the court has jurisdiction (power) over such child; and
      • no prior order regarding custody is pending or has been made; and
      • the best interests of the child require that a custody order be issued;
    • Establish a visitation schedule that is in the best interests of the child;
    • Give you child support;
    • Give you spousal support (maintenance) for up to 180 days if you are legally married;4
    • If you are married to or have children together, the judge can order the abuser to make rent or mortgage payments on the home you are living in OR on a different home (rather than the one you lived in with the abuser) if you choose;
    • Give you temporary possession of personal property, such as cars, checkbooks, keys, and other personal items;
    • Prohibit the abuser from transferring, selling or getting rid of property mutually owned or leased by you and the abuser;
    • Order the abuser to participate in batterers’ counseling or drug treatment;
    • Order the abuser to pay a reasonable fee for housing and other services that are/were provided to you by a domestic violence shelter;
    • Order the abuser to pay court costs;
    • Order the abuser to pay the cost of medical treatment and services that are/were provided to you as a result of injuries due to domestic violence committed by the abuser;5 and/or
    • Order the abuser to pay your attorney’s fees.6

1 MO ST § 455.045
2 MO ST § 455.050(1)
3 MO ST § 455.050(4)
4 MO ST § 455.050(8)
5 MO ST § 455.050(3)
6 MO ST § 455.075

What types of orders of protection due to stalking or sexual assault are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of orders:

1) Ex parte orders of protection - Ex parte is Latin for “from one side.”  A judge can grant you an ex parte order if you prove there is “good cause” to do so.  “Good cause” can be when the judge believes there is an immediate and present danger of stalking or sexual assault to you.1  A judge may grant you the order based solely on your petition and testimony, without holding a hearing.  Ex parte orders may be granted without the abuser’s prior knowledge and without his/her presence in court.

An ex parte order generally will be valid until your court hearing for a full order of protection, which usually takes place within 15 days.2

If you ask for an ex parte order but the judge doesn’t give you one, you may get a “Notice of Hearing” instead.  Although this is not an order protecting you, it does mean you have a date and time for a hearing, where the judge will decide whether or not to grant you a full order of protection. To get a full order of protection, you will need to prove your allegations of stalking or sexual assault to the judge. 

Note: If you desire, you can receive a notification when the ex parte order is served on the abuser.3  Ask the clerk for information on how to get this notification.

2) Full orders of protection - A full order of protection can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story.  If you prove to the judge that you were the victim of stalking or sexual assault, you can get an order of protection that will last for a period of time between 180 days and one year.2  Full orders may be extended for a longer period of time.  For more information, see How do I extend, change or dismiss an order of protection? in our Orders of Protection due to Domestic Violence section.

1 MO ST §455.035(1)
2 See MO ST § 455.040(1)
3 MO ST §455.038

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.

Getting the order of protection

Who can get an order of protection due to stalking or sexual assault?

You can file for an order of protection against anyone who is stalking you or who has sexually assaulted you, no matter what that your relationship is to that person. You do not have to be in a relationship with the person or related to the person.1

1 MO ST §§ 455.010(11); 455.020(1)

Where can I find more information about orders of protection due to stalking or sexual assault?

Orders of protection due to stalking or sexual assault are derived from the same laws as orders of protection due to domestic violence.  The main difference, however, is that to get an order of protection due to stalking or sexual assault, you do not have to have a family member or household relationship with the respondent.  For more information on the process of applying for an order of protection due to stalking or sexual assault, you can read the information in our Orders of Protection due to Domestic Violence section. 

Moving to Another State with an Order of Protection

If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your Missouri order of protection can still be enforceable.

General rules

Can I get my order of protection from Missouri enforced in another state?

Yes. If you have a valid Missouri order of protection that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid protection orders granted in the United States receive “full faith and credit” in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories, which means that each state must enforce out-of-state orders in the same way it enforces its own orders.  Therefore, if the abuser violates your order of protection, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated. 

See How do I know if my order of protection is good under federal law? to see if your order of protection qualifies for out-of-state enforcement.  

How do I know if my order of protection is good under federal law?

An OP is good anywhere in the United States as long as: 

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you;1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case); and
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

I have a temporary ex parte order. Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes. An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my order of protection is good under federal law?

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court). However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

Getting your order of protection enforced in another state

How do I get my order of protection enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your order of protection enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1   Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

Note: It may be a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You may also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move. You may want to leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. You may want to give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser. You may want to also give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do I need a special copy of my order of protection to get it enforced?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your order. A certified copy says that it is a “true and correct” copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it.  In Missouri, a certified order has a stamped seal on it.  The copy you originally received from court may not be a certified copy. If your copy is not a certified copy, you can call or go to the court that gave you the order and ask the clerk’s office for a certified copy.  Go to our MO Courthouse Locations page for contact information.

 

Do I need a lawyer to enforce my order of protection?

You do not need a lawyer to get your order of protection enforced in another state. However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to. A domestic violence advocate may be able to let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your order, and help you through the process if you decide to do so. To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, the Places that Help page and then choose your new state from the drop-down menu and click “Enter.”

Do I need to tell the court in Missouri if I move?

You might want to, if you won’t be getting mail at your old address.  The court that gave you your order of protection may need to have an up-to-date address for you in case, let’s say, the abuser asks the court to dismiss or modify the order.  Also, if your order will automatically renew, and the abuser wants to object, then the court would need your address to send you the notice of the hearing date.  If you provide your new address to the court, you may want to make sure they will keep it confidential if the abuser doesn’t know where you are living.  It should be kept in a confidential part of your file, and the public will not have access to it.  However, your new address could possibly be released to court officials in your new state or law enforcement officials in either Missouri or your new state.  If you feel unsafe giving your new address, you may want to use the address of a friend you trust or a P.O. box instead.

Enforcing Your Out-of-State Order in Missouri

If you are planning to move to Missouri or are going to be in Missouri for any reason, your protection order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in Missouri

Can I get my protection order enforced in Missouri? What are the requirements?

Yes. A foreign order of protection (as out-of-state orders are called) can be enforced in Missouri as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you;1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case); and
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b); see also MO ST § 455.067(1)

Can I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in MO?

No. To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued. You cannot have this done by a court in Missouri.

If your order does expire while you are living in Missouri, you may be able to get a new one issued in Missouri but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Missouri. To find out more information on how to get an order of protection in Missouri, visit our Restraining Orders page.

I was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in MO?

Yes. As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 Missouri can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets these standards, contact a lawyer in your area. To find a lawyer in your area click here MO Finding a Lawyer.

1 The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and it must be consistent with the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980

Registering your out-of-state order in Missouri

What is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials. All law enforcement officials have access to the NCIC database but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it. Before moving to Missouri, the state that issued your protection order may already have entered your order into the NCIC. If not, your order could be entered into the NCIC if you register in MO.

How do I register my protection order in Missouri?

Registering your order in MO is not necessary to get it enforced.1  If you decide that you do want to register your out-of-state order with a court in MO, you can file a certified copy of your out-of-state protection order and an affidavit (sworn statement) saying the protection order is a true and accurate copy and has not been changed by the circuit court that granted the order.  If the order ends before the expiration date, you are supposed to notify the court.2  It does not cost anything to file the order in MO.3  Please see our MO Courthouse Locations page to find contact information for courthouses in MO. 

Note: It might also be a good idea to bring photo identification with you when you go to register your order at the courthouse.  If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Missouri for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our MO Advocates and Shelters page.

1 MO Statutes § 455.067(4)
2 MO Statutes § 455.067(2)
3 MO Statutes § 455.067(3)

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

No. You do not need to register your out-of-state order in Missouri to get it enforced.1 Missouri state law gives full protection to an out-of-state protection order as long as you can show the law enforcement officer a certified copy of the order2 and the order is still valid (not expired). It does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by a Missouri police officer.1

1 MO Statutes § 455.067(4)
2 MO Statutes § 455.083

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 MO 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?

No, it should not be more difficult to get your protection order enforced if you do not register your order. Law enforcement officers are required to enforce an out-of-state protection order in the same way they enforce a MO order although whereas they can rely upon a regular copy of a MO order, they may ask for a certified copy of an out-of-state order.1 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 Missouri. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in MO, go to our MO State and Local Program page.

1 MO ST § 455.083