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Legal Information: Ohio

Ohio Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Ohio?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a protection order. Domestic violence is when a family or household member or someone you are in a dating relationship with does any of the following:

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(A)(1)
2 Ohio Rev. Code § 2151.031(D)

What kinds of protection orders are there in Ohio? How long do they last?

There are two kinds of protection orders in Ohio. A temporary ex parte protection order can be granted the same day you file your petition in order to give you immediate protection from the abuser. The judge can grant the ex parte order if there is “good cause” to do so. Immediate danger of domestic violence can count as good cause to grant a temporary ex parte order, which includes, but is not limited to:

  1. situations in which the respondent has threatened you with bodily harm or a sexually oriented offense; or
  2. a situation in which the respondent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a domestic violence crime against you (including a juvenile adjudication for a domestic violence crime).1

An ex parte order will last until the hearing for your civil protection order, which generally takes places within 7 to 10 days.2

A civil protection order (CPO) can be issued after a hearing is held where the abuser has the opportunity to appear in court (even if s/he chooses not to appear). A CPO can last up to five years but if the respondent (abuser) is under age 18 when the order is issued against him/her, the order can only last until s/he turns 19 (unless it is renewed/extended).3 However, if the CPO includes a provision for temporary custody/visitation and/or an order of support, those terms may end earlier than the five years if either parent files for divorce, legal separation, or allocation of parental rights and responsibilities and a judge in that court case makes an order for custody/visitation or support.4

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(D)(1)
2 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(D)(2)
3 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(E)(3)(a), (E)(3)(c)

What protections can I get in a domestic violence protection order?

An ex parte order and a final protection order may:

  • order the abuser to refrain from abusing, harassing, and annoying you;
  • order the abuser to have no contact with you or your children;
  • keep the abuser from entering your home, school, business or place of employment, or those of your children;
  • evict the abuser and award you possession of the residence, even if the residence is owned by the abuser;
  • award you custody of your child;
  • require the abuser to pay you monthly support;
  • require the abuser to pay rent, mortgage, and/or utility payments;
  • require the abuser to see a counselor;
  • order that the respondent not remove, damage, hide, harm, or get rid of any companion animal owned or possessed by you (and the judge can allow you to remove your companion animal from the possession of the abuser);
  • grant you use of motor vehicle and other possessions;1
  • 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 case use if you are not already the account holder;2 and
  • grant any other relief that the court considers reasonable and fair.1

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

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(E)(1)
2 Ohio Rev. Code §§ 3113.31(E)(1)(k), 3113.451

In which county can I file for a protection order?

How much does it cost to get, modify, dismiss, or serve an order? Do I need a lawyer?

You cannot be charged any fee or cost in connection with filing for a protection order, which includes filing your petition, getting an order issued, registering the order, modifying the order, enforcing the order or even dismissing/withdrawing the order.  You also cannot be charged anything to have the order served by law enforcement, to request a witness subpoena from the judge for a hearing, or to get a certified copy of your order.1

However, the court can make the respondent (abuser) pay costs in connection with any of the above-mentioned actions.2

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for a protection order, it may be to your advantage to seek legal counsel, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, you may want to contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.  If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance and domestic violence agencies on the OH Places that Help page.  Staff at domestic violence agencies in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms. 

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(J)(1)
2 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(J)(2)

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

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 a protection order

Am I eligible to file for a protection order?

You may qualify for a protection order if you were a victim of domestic violence committed by:

  • a family or household member;
  • someone with whom you are or were in a dating relationship.1 (See below for the legal definition of a “dating relationship.”)

“Family or household member” is defined as:

  • someone with whom you have a child in common, even if you never lived together;2 or
  • any of the following people but only if you live with them currently or in the past:
    • your spouse or ex-spouse;3
    • a person “living as a spouse” (common law spouse)3 but onlyif you lived together at some point in the five years prior to the domestic violence incident described in your petition;4
    • your parent, foster parent, or step-parent;
    • your child or step-child;
    • anyone else related to you by blood or marriage; or
    • the parent, child, or anyone related by blood or marriage to the “person living as a spouse” of the abuser (for example, the mother of the abuser’s common-law wife may be able to file against the abuser).2

A “dating relationship” is defined as a romantic or intimate relationship that:

  • is between adults;
  • is beyond a typical social relationship or casual acquaintance; and
  • took place within twelve months of the domestic violence incident.5

If someone other than a family or household member or dating partner is hurting you, you may be eligible for a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order.

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(A)
2 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(A)(3)(b)
3 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(A)(3)(a)
4 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(A)(4)
5 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(A)(8), (A)(9)

Can I file for a protection order against a minor?

Yes, you can file against someone who is under age 18. However, the petition would be filed in juvenile court (the juvenile division of the court of common pleas) as opposed to the domestic relations division of the court of common pleas.1 To read more information about filing a juvenile civil protection order, go to the Juvenile Civil Protection Order FAQ from the Supreme Court of Ohio’s website.

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(A)(2)

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

In Ohio, you may apply for a protection order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Am I eligible to file for a protection order? 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 Ohio?

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

How much do protection orders cost? Do I need a lawyer?

There is no filing fee to get a protection order.

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for a protection order, it may be to your advantage to seek legal counsel, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, you may want to contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected. If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance and domestic violence agencies on the OH Places that Help page. Staff at domestic violence agencies in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms.

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

The steps for getting a protection order

Step 1: Get and fill out the necessary forms.

You can find the forms from the civil clerk at the courthouse where you live, but you may want to find them before you go and fill them out at home or with an advocate from a domestic violence program. You will find links to forms online on our Ohio Download Court Forms page and you will find courthouse locations on our Ohio Courthouse Locations page.

On the petition you will be the “petitioner” and the abuser will be the “respondent.” In the box provided for explaining why you want the order, write about the most recent incidents of violence, using specific language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible. Clerks and magistrates can show you which blanks to fill in, but they cannot help you decide what to write. Note: Do not sign the forms until you are in front of a notary or a clerk. The clerk can usually notarize the forms for you.

If you need immediate protection, let the clerk know you also want a temporary (ex parte) order. An ex parte order is a temporary emergency order that a judge can grant you if you or your child are in immediate danger without any prior notice to the abuser.

You will need to provide your name and contact information so that the court can reach you. Be sure to use a safe mailing address and phone number. If you are staying at a shelter, give a post office box, not the street address. If you do not have a safe address, do not fill it out - ask the clerk first how you can keep your address confidential.

Step 2: The ex parte hearing

After you complete the application, return it to the clerk. The clerk will forward it to a judge, and the judge will consider your application. The judge may wish to question you about your allegations in an ex parte hearing. “Ex parte” means “from one side.” In this hearing the judge hears only from you, not from the abuser. You will explain to the judge why you fear the abuser and feel you need a protection order. The abuser does not need to know about this hearing until after it has taken place.

After hearing your testimony, the judge will decide whether or not to issue a temporary protection order until your full hearing. Whether or not the judge grants you a temporary order, s/he will generally give you a date for your full court hearing. Your full hearing will take place within 7 to 10 days of your filing the petition.

Step 3: Service of process

After you receive an ex parte order of protection, the abuser must be served with your petition, a copy of the order, and notice of the hearing for the final order.

If the abuser lives in Ohio, the clerk of the court will deliver a copy of the following documents to the local sheriff in the county where the abuser lives:

  • your petition for an order of protection;
  • the affidavit you filled out describing the abuse;
  • a summons/notice to appear with the time and date of the next court date; and
  • any other relevant documents.1

The sheriff will then try to “personally serve” the abuser by finding him/her and giving him/her the documents. If you request it, the clerk could send these documents to a process server or any person over 18 who is not a party to the case for service instead of the sheriff. That person can then locate the abuser and give him the documents.

Once the sheriff, deputy, process server, or person over 18 has completed service, s/he must fill out a form notifying the clerk the abuser has been served and give that form to the clerk.

If the abuser does not live in Ohio, the clerk of the court will give you a copy of the order for the abuser so that you can arrange for service. You can give this copy to a sheriff, process server, or any person over 18 who is permitted by the court to serve process. This person must give the copy to the abuser and then fill out a form notifying the clerk the abuser has been served and give that form to the clerk.2 You can find contact information for sheriffs in other states on our Sheriff Departments page.

Regardless of whether the abuser lives in Ohio or not, if the abuser is not served before the next court date, the judge may either “continue” the case to allow for more time to try to serve the abuser or dismiss the case for lack of service. In addition, if the sheriff or other person who attempted to serve the documents is unable to serve the abuser, you can file for “service by publication by posting and mail.” To do so, you would file an affidavit in court that:

  1. gives the last-known address for the abuser;
  2. says that you do not know where the abuser lives;
  3. describes all your efforts to try to find the abuser; and
  4. states that after “reasonable diligence,” you have been unable to find the abuser so that s/he can be served.3

Once you file this request, the clerk of the court will post notice of the order of protection in the courthouse, and in two public places in the county as determined by the local rules for six weeks in a row. The clerk will also mail the documents to the last available address for the abuser. Once the clerk has posted the documents in these places for a period of six weeks, s/he will enter the information on the docket and service is complete.

1 Ohio Civ. R. 4.1(B)
2 Ohio Civ. R. 4.3(B)(2)
3 Ohio Civ. R. 65.1(C)(2); 4.4(A)(2)(B), (A)(1)

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 full court hearing

On the day of the hearing, you must go to the hearing to ask to have your temporary order (good only for up to 10 days) turned into a CPO, which will last for up to five years. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire. If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a CPO or may reschedule the hearing.

You may wish to hire a lawyer to help with your case, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If the abuser shows up with a lawyer, you can ask the judge for a “continuance” (a later court date) so that you have time to find a lawyer. Go to OH FInding a Lawyer to find help in your area. You can also represent yourself. 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.

If you absolutely cannot go to the hearing at the scheduled time, you may call the courthouse to ask how to request that your case be “continued,” but the judge may deny your request.

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 Ohio 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?

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at your child’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.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you extra copies for your local police or sheriff’s department, make copies and give them to the police.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number, as well as taking other safety precautions.

You may also wish to make a safety plan. Women 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 protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. You can visit our Safety Tips page for tips on safety planning.

I was not granted a protection order. What are my options?

If you are not granted an CPO, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Tips page. You will find a list of resources on our OH Places that Help page.

If you were not granted an CPO because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify, you may be able to seek protection through a Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Orders.

You may also be able to reapply for a CPO if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone at a domestic violence organization or a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

If the defendant violates the CPO, you can call 911 to report it to law enforcement. Tell the officers you have a CPO and the defendant is violating it. In some cases, the defendant can be arrested right away. You can read about under what circumstances a violation would be a misdemeanor versus a felony on our OH Statutes page. If found guilty of a violation of a CPO, the defendant can be put in jail and/or fined.1 Even if the abuser is not arrested, it is important to ask the police to file a report – and to get a copy of the report– so that you have documentation.

Note: If the abuser is prosecuted for violating the order, the prosecutor does not have to prove that the protection order was served on the defendant personally. The prosecutor only has to prove that either:

  • the defendant was shown a copy of the protection order; or
  • a judge, magistrate, or law enforcement officer informed the defendant that a protection order had been issued.1

Another way to enforce a CPO can be to go back to the court that issued the order and file for civil contempt for a violation of the order. The abuser can be found to be in contempt if s/he does anything that your CPO orders him or her not to do. To file for civil contempt, you can use this form for a Motion for Contempt of a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order from the Supreme Court of Ohio. You can also see “How to Complete a Motion for Contempt for Violating a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order” from the Supreme Court of Ohio.

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 2919.27(D)

How do I extend my civil protection order?

You may go to the court to have your order extended for up to an additional five years.1 You will probably have to go to a short hearing to tell a judge why you need it extended. You should start the process before your first order expires, so that you are not left unprotected. If you wait until your first order expires, you may have to begin the process all over again.

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(E)(3)(c); see also City of Columbus website

What happens if I move? Is the order still enforceable?

Your civil protection order is enforceable in all U.S. states and territories. The law requires that all other states give “full faith and credit” to the order, meaning that it will be enforced just like it would be in Ohio. However, each state has its own laws and procedures.

Any person with a valid protection order (an order that has not expired) who relocates to another state may want to inquire at a court or law enforcement agency for instructions on the registration and enforcement of orders in that state. For more information, see our Moving to Another State with Your Ohio Protection Order page.

Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Orders

Basic info

What are the definitions of stalking and sexually oriented offenses?

To get an SSOOPO, you must show that the abuser (known as the “respondent” in court) has committed acts that would come under the crime of menacing by stalking or that the respondent committed a sexually oriented offense against you. It does not matter if the respondent was ever charged with either of these crimes not. It only matters that s/he has committed one of the acts described in these crimes.1

You can read the definition of menacing by stalking on our Selected Ohio Statutes page (see sections (A)(1) and (A)(2)).

The definition of a sexually oriented offense is when someone commits or attempts to commit an act that comes under one of these crimes (even if the person was not arrested for it):

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(C)(1)
2 Ohio Rev. Code § 2950.01(A)

What is a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order and how long does it last?

A stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order (“SSOOPO”) is designed to protect you, your family and household members from someone who has stalked you or committed sexually oriented offense against you.1 Like domestic violence protective orders, there are temporary and final SSOOPOs.

A temporary order may be granted by a judge if s/he believes that it is necessary for your safety and protection or that you are in immediate and present danger. The temporary order lasts for ten days or until the full court hearing.2

A final SSOOPO can be granted only after a full court hearing where the victim and abuser both get a chance to present evidence, witnesses and testimony. If granted, a final order may last for up to five years and may be renewed after that time for up to an additional five years.3

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(C)(1)
2 Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(D)(1), (D)(2)(a)
3 Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(E)(2)(a), (E)(2)(b)

What protections can I get in a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order?

An ex parte or final sexually oriented offense protection order (SSOOPO) can:

  • prohibit the stalker or sexual offender from harming or attempting to harm you, threatening, following, stalking, harassing, contacting you, or forcing sexual relations upon you;
  • prohibit the abuser from entering your home, school, business, or place of employment, children’s school or daycare (including the grounds and parking lot) or that of any of your family or household members;
  • prohibit the abuser from shutting off any utilities or removing or damaging any of your property or pets, canceling any insurance or health benefits, interfering with your phone service or mail delivery;1
  • order that the respondent not remove, damage, hide, harm, or get rid of any companion animal owned or possessed by you (and the judge can allow you to remove your companion animal from the possession of the abuser).2

In addition, as part of a final order, the judge can order that the respondent wear electronic monitoring as long as you include the following in your petition:

  • that at any time before you filed the petition, the respondent engaged in conduct that would cause a “reasonable person” to believe that his/her health, welfare, or safety was at risk;
  • a description of the nature and extent of that conduct; and
  • that the respondent presents a continuing danger to you.3

1 See sample ex parte order on Ohio courts website
2 Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(E)(1)(a)
3 Ohio Rev. Code § 2903.214(C)(2), (E)(1)(b)

Who can get a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order? Where is the petition filed?

You may apply for a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order (SSOOPO) against anyone who has committed stalking or a sexually oriented offense against you, regardless of your relationship to the person.1 You do not have to know the person or be related to the person.

To file for an SSOOPO against someone 18 or older, you would file your petition in the court of common pleas (in the general division) in the county in which you live.2 If you are filing against someone under 18, you would likely file for a juvenile civil protection order in the juvenile court.3

1 Ohio Rev. Code 2903.214(C)(1)
2 Ohio Rev. Code 2903.214(C)(1), (A)(1)
3 See the Juvenile Civil Protection Order FAQ from the Supreme Court of Ohio’s website

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 and enforcing an order

What are the steps for obtaining a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order?

The steps for getting a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order (SSOOPO) are similar to the steps involved with obtaining a domestic violence protection order. See The steps for getting a protection order. One major difference is that the petition for an SSOOPO must be filed with the general division of the court of common pleas, not the domestic relations division.1 Be sure to tell the clerk you need the forms to file for a stalking or sexually oriented offense protection order.

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(A)(2)

How much does it cost to get, modify, dismiss, or serve an order? Do I need a lawyer?

You cannot be charged any fee or cost in connection with filing for an SSOOPO, which includes filing your petition, getting an order issued, registering the order, modifying the order, enforcing the order or even dismissing/withdrawing the order.  You also cannot be charged anything to have the order served by law enforcement, to request a witness subpoena from the judge for a hearing, or to get a certified copy of your order.1

However, the court can make the respondent (abuser) pay costs in connection with any of the above-mentioned actions.2

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for an SSOOPO, it may be to your advantage to seek legal counsel, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, you may want to contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.  If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on our OH Finding a Lawyer page. 

1 Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2903.214(J)(1); 3113.31(J)(1)
2 Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2903.214(J)(2); 3113.31(J)(2)

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

What happens if the abuser violates the order?

If you believe the SSOOPO has been violated, you can call the police. An abuser can be arrested for violating an SSOOPO. You can read about under what circumstances a violation would be a misdemeanor versus a felony on our Selected Ohio Statutes page. Note: If the abuser is prosecuted for violating the order, the prosecutor does not have to prove that the protection order was served on the defendant if the prosecutor can prove that the either the defendant was shown a copy of the protection order or that a judge, magistrate, or law enforcement officer informed the defendant that a protection order had been issued.1

Also, if your order had an electronic monitoring requirement, the judge can require that s/he be electronically monitored for up to 5 years (in addition to any other sentence s/he gets for the violation).2

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 2919.27(D)
2 Ohio Rev. Code § 2919.27(B)

Moving to Another State with Your Ohio Protection Order

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

General rules

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

If you have a valid Ohio protection order 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. In other words, each state must enforce out-of-state orders in the same way it enforces its own orders. If the abuser violates your out-of-state protection order, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated.

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

An order of protection is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent, or threatening acts, or sexual violence against another person, or it is issued to forbid contact or communication with another person or it is issued to order the abuser to stay away from another person.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).
  • 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 (orders issued with only one party present) 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 within a “reasonable time” after the order is issued.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. § 2265(5)(A)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a)-(b)

I have an emergency ex parte protection order. Can it be enforced in another state?

An ex parte emergency order of protection 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?1

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.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

Getting your Ohio civil protection order enforced in another state

How do I get my protection order 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 of protection 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.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do I need anything special to get my protection order enforced in another state?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your order of protection. 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.

Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move. 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. Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work. Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

Can I get someone to help me?  Do I need a lawyer?

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 can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your order of protection, 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, go to the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.

Enforcing temporary custody provisions in another state

I was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Will another state enforce this custody order?

Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a civil protection order can be enforced across state lines. Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.1

1 18 USC § 2266

I was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Can I take my kids out of the state?

It will likely depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your order of protection. You may have to first seek the permission of the court before leaving. If the abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

To read more about custody laws in Ohio, go to our Custody page.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance in Ohio on our OH Places that Help page.

Enforcing an Out-of-State Order in Ohio

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

General rules for out-of-state orders in Ohio

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

Your protection order can be enforced in Ohio as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent, threatening, or harassing behavior against another person, or it was issued to forbid contact or communication with another person.
  • 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.)
  • 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 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 ex parte or emergency order expires.1

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 USC 2265; Ohio Rev. Code; see § 2919.27(C)

Can I have my protection order changed, extended, or canceled in Ohio?

Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You cannot have this done by a court in Ohio. 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 may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where your abuser is living. To find out more information about how to modify a protection order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

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

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

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

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets this legal standard, contact a lawyer in your area. To find a lawyer in your area, click here OH 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 the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

Registering your out-of-state order in Ohio

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.

Before moving to Ohio, the state that issued your protection order may already have entered your order into the NCIC. If not, your order will be entered into the NCIC once your order is registered in Ohio. All law enforcement officials have access to the NCIC database, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

How do I register my protection order in Ohio?

There is no fee for registration, and you may register your protection order in as many Ohio counties as you wish.1   To register your protection order in Ohio, you will need to:

  • get a certified copy of the order from the clerk of the court that issued your order; and
  • present your certified copy to the clerk of the county or municipal court or court of common pleas where you want to register your protection order.  The clerk will place a mark on the certified copy proving that your order has been registered and give you a copy bearing that mark.2 

See the OH Courthouse Locations page to find contact information for courthouses in Ohio.  It’s a good idea to bring your photo identification with you when you get your certified copy or register your protection order.

If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Ohio for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our OH Advocates and Shelters page.

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 3113.31(J),(N)(1)
2 Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2919.272, 3113.31(N)(2)

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

Ohio state law gives full protection to an out-of-state protection order.1 It does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by an Ohio police officer, but the officer does need to believe that it is a valid (real) order.

1 Ohio Rev. Code § 2919.272(D)

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 OH Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

What if I don't register my protection order?  Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

While neither federal law nor state law requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced, if your order is not entered into the state registry, it may be more difficult for a law enforcement official to determine whether your order is real. So, it could take longer to get your order enforced. 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 Ohio.

To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in Ohio, go to our OH Advocates and Shelters page.

Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

There is no fee for registering your protection order in Ohio.