Step 1: Go to a certified domestic violence advocate or to the district court and request a petition.
Most protection orders in North Dakota come through the help of a certified domestic violence advocate. In fact, if you contact the court directly, you may be referred to the closest domestic violence program for help. See ND Advocates and Shelters for the location of an organization near you.
However, you may choose to get an attorney or seek an order by yourself. This is always your right. If you choose to seek the order yourself, go to a district court in your area. You can find a court near you by going to our ND Courthouse Locations page.
Find the civil court clerk. The clerk is the courthouse official in charge of records. Request an application for a domestic violence protection order from the clerk. Also tell the clerk if you want a temporary ex parte order. Usually you apply for these at the same time. Read more about temporary ex parte orders. You can find links to applications online by going to Download Court Forms.
Step 2: Fill out the application.
Carefully fill out the forms. You may want to write about the most recent incidents of violence, using descriptive words like “slapping,” “hitting,” “grabbing,” “threatening,” “choking,” etc., that fit your situation. Include details and dates, if possible. Be specific.
You may also have to provide an accurate physical description of the abuser and an address where s/he can be found so the order can be served.
A domestic violence organization may be able to provide you with help in filling out the form. See ND Advocates and Shelters for the location of an organization near you.
Note: Do not sign the petition until you have shown it to a clerk. The form may need to be notarized or signed while someone from the court watches.
Step 3: A judge will review your application.
After you finish filling out your application, bring it to the court clerk. The clerk will forward it to a judge. The judge may want to ask you questions as s/he reviews your application. The judge will decide whether or not to give you an ex parte order if you have requested one. To read more about temporary ex parte orders, go to What types of protection orders are there? How long do they last?
Whether or not you are granted an ex parte order, your case will be scheduled for a hearing for the final domestic violence protection order (assuming your petition is not dismissed). You will be given papers that tell you the time and date of your hearing for a domestic violence protection order. Your hearing for a domestic violence protection order will take place within 14 days of filing your application with the court unless there is “good cause” to delay it.1
If the judge grants you an ex parte order, the court clerk will forward it to law enforcement so that your order can be enforced.2
1 N.D. Code § 14-07.1-02(2)
2 N.D. Code § 14-07.1-03(5)
Step 4: Service of process
The abuser must be served with a notice of hearing and with any protection orders that a judge has granted you. The judge will order the sheriff or other law enforcement officer to assist with serving the abuser.1 If you have questions about service, see our ND Sheriff Departments page to find the sheriff department nearest you.
The abuser must be served at least five days before the hearing date. If the abuser isn’t served five days prior to the hearing, the judge may reschedule your hearing.2
1 N.D. Code § 14-07.1-04
2 N.D. Code § 14-07.1-02(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 5: The hearing
It is very important that you attend all of the court dates. If you do not attend, the judge may dismiss your case and any temporary protection orders will stop being effective. If you find out you absolutely cannot attend, contact the court clerk immediately and ask how you can get a “continuance” or an “adjournment” for a later court date.
If the court case does not settle, it will go to a hearing (trial). At the hearing, you will be able to testify in court about the abuse and harassment you have experienced, present witnesses and other evidence to support your case. The abuser will be allowed to do the same. If you are not represented by a lawyer, you may want to consult with a lawyer before the hearing to understand what documents and evidence are legally admissible in court. You can also find tips on our At the Hearing page.
If the abuser does not attend the hearing, the judge may issue a “default judgment” and you may receive a protection order against him/her in his/her absence. The judge may still ask you to present your evidence and testimony and then decide the case based on that alone. It is also possible that the judge may decide to reschedule the hearing for a different day.
If you have a temporary protection order, it may expire on the next court date and another temporary one may be issued that is effective until the following court date. Be sure to look at the expiration date of the order before each court date so you know if the judge should be issuing another temporary protection order on your return court date. If the judge does not mention that the protection order is extended or continued, be sure to ask the judge if a new order is being issued on your behalf. Once the case goes to a hearing or trial, if you win your case, the judge would issue a final protection order.