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 relationship categories, you may still 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 do not need to have a relationship with the offender.2
Note: A court in Missouri can give you an order of protection even if you are only in Missouri temporarily as long as the domestic violence happened, was attempted, or was threatened within the state of Missouri. If there were additional incidents of domestic violence that happened outside of Missouri, you can also include these incidents in your petition as a way to show your need for protection.3
1 MO ST § 455.010(7)
2 MO ST § 455.010(12)
3 MO ST § 455.032
Can a minor get an order of protection?
A minor can get an order of protection but cannot file on his/her own. Instead, 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 on the minor child’s behalf.1 A child order of protection is also called an “order of protection for a child.”
An order of protection for a child may be available to a minor who was the victim of:
- domestic violence by a present or former household member; or
- stalking or sexual assault by anyone.2
Note: Missouri law defines a “child” as someone who is under 17 and not emancipated.3 An “adult” is someone age 17 and older or a minor who is emancipated.4 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. Therefore, 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 defining an adult as someone 17 or older.
A minor may also be included on his/her parent’s petition for an order of protection if:
- the parent is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; and
- the minor is a child of both 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 MO ST § 455.503(2)
2 MO ST § 455.505(1)
3 MO ST § 455.010(3)
4 MO ST § 455.010(2)
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 who is 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: If you are serving an order against a minor, you would serve the minor’s custodial parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem. The court papers will say that the parent or guardian must appear in court and bring the minor-respondent to court at the time and place stated. However, if the minor is emancipated, then you would serve him/her.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 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 in 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 Planning 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.