What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Oregon?
This section defines domestic abuse for the purposes of getting a Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining order, commonly referred to as a “FAPA” order.
Domestic abuse is when a family or household member:
- attempts to hurt you physically;
- actually hurts you physically (intentionally, recklessly or knowingly);
- intimidates or makes you afraid of serious physical injury (intentionally, recklessly or knowingly); or
- makes you have sex against your will by force or threat of force.1
1 O.R.S. § 107.705(1)
What protections can I get in a Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining order?
A restraining order can:
- order the abuser to:
- stop abusing, threatening, or interfering with you and any children in your custody;
- stay away from your home, school, workplace, or other specified place;
- leave your home if you live together;
- remove personal belongings from the home while police stand guard; and
- have no contact with you in person, by mail, or by phone.
- give you temporary legal custody of your children;
- give the abuser temporary custody so long as there are conditions in place to protect the children;
- allow you visitation rights to your children if the abuser has custody;
- order other relief that the judge thinks is necessary to provide for the safety and welfare of you and your children, including but not limited to emergency financial assistance from the abuser (respondent); and
- order other relief to prevent the neglect of, and protect the safety of, any animal kept for personal protection, companionship, service, or therapy but not an animal kept for any business, commercial, agricultural or economic purpose.1
Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.
1 O.R.S. § 107.718(1)
What types of Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining orders are there? How long do they last?
There are two types of family abuse prevention act restraining orders: temporary restraining orders and final restraining orders.
When you go to the court to file for a restraining order, the judge might give you a temporary, ex parte restraining order. A temporary restraining order is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from the abuser. You may receive a temporary, ex parte restraining order as soon as you file your petition, without the abuser present in court. At the time you file your petition for a temporary restraining order, the judge may schedule an “exceptional circumstances” hearing. See What is an exceptional circumstances hearing? for more information.
The temporary restraining order is effective as soon as the court grants it. However, it cannot be enforced against the abuser until the abuser has been served with notice of the order. A sheriff or another qualified person will serve the abuser with a copy of the order.
After the abuser (the respondent) receives the temporary restraining order, s/he has 30 days to ask for a hearing.1 If the abuser asks for a hearing, it must be held within 21 days of that request. However, if the abuser is fighting against the part of the order that gives you temporary custody, the hearing must be held within five days.2 At the hearing, the judge will decide if the temporary restraining order will continue.
If the abuser does not request a hearing, your restraining order will stay in effect and become a final restraining order. Once the judge issues a final restraining order, it is in effect for two years unless the order:
- is withdrawn;
- changed (modified) by the judge; or
- is replaced (superseded) by a separate order that is issued in a divorce, separation, or annulment proceeding.3.
You may be able to have the order extended beyond two years. See How do I renew (extend) the restraining order? for more information.
1 O.R.S. § 107.718(10)
2 O.R.S. § 107.716(1)
3 O.R.S. § 107.718(3)
What is an exceptional circumstances hearing?
When you file a Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining order, an “exceptional circumstances” hearing will be scheduled if the judge decides that there are issues affecting the custody of your children and the judge needs more information to make a decision about custody or parenting time. The judge will order that this hearing be held within 14 days. However, the abuser can request an earlier hearing, which would be held within five days after s/he requests it. At the hearing, the judge will ask both you and the respondent to appear and provide more information about the children so that the judge can make a decision about temporary custody.1 For example, the judge may order an exceptional circumstances hearing if you are not the usual and primary caretaker of the children or if your request for custody conflicts with a previous order in another court case.
1 O.R.S. § 107.718(2)
In which county can I file for a restraining order?
You can file a petition in the county where you live, or in the county where the abuser lives.1
1 O.R.S. § 107.728
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.