Legal Information: Tribal

Abuse in Tribal Communities

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Updated: 
March 12, 2010

What if I leave town?

Under Federal Law, once you have a protection order from any state or tribe, you can petition to have that order enforced in every state in the United State according to the Violence Against Women Act.1 However, before you go to another state or tribe you may want to call the local police in the area to alert them that you are moving to the area and that you have a protection order.2

When you get to the new area, you may want to call the courthouse to find out what the procedure is for registering your protection order. How and where you register your order can vary by location. According to federal laws, you do not have to register the protection order in order to have it enforced. Though registering your order can have some benefits, depending on your state's confidentiality laws, it is possible that registering your order could inform your abuser of your new address. Consult with a domestic violence women's advocate to determine whether registering your order will be in your best interest.

Note: Even though, by law, your tribal court protection order is valid off the reservation and throughout the country, what has been happening in some places is that women have been required by some state courts to also petition in their state courts for an order off the reservation.

You may want to consult an attorney or ask your court clerk about this -- under federal law, you should not have to file for more than one protection order at any given time. Make sure that the state courts know about your tribal court-issued order and have registered it so that it is enforceable off the reservation.

1 18 USC §2265
2http://www.vaw.umn.edu/documents/survivorbrochure/