Civil Restraining Orders in Colorado

Posted By Matthew Clawson || 18-Sep-2014

Family law attorneys know that sometimes, especially at the beginning of a dissolution proceeding, a spouse needs to be protected from harassment—or even from any contact—by the other spouse. In such cases, the spouse can apply to the court for an emergency protection order or a temporary restraining order. These orders are particularly needed in cases of domestic abuse, stalking, sexual assault or unlawful sexual contact. These orders are also needed in other kinds of cases involving threatened violence or of suspected abuse of the elderly or an at-risk adult.

Forms for application for these orders can be found online at www.courts.state.co.us or at the local courthouse clerk's office. Although police complaints are often made in connection with these situations, a police complaint does not have to be made in order for a court to issue a temporary restraining order. However, before a court issues a temporary restraining order, the court must be convinced that the requesting party is in particular "imminent danger" from the person sought to be restrained. The law permits the court to enter an order prohibiting a person from possessing firearms.

The document that is filed to request a civil restraining order is called a "complaint" and must set forth specific facts and dates giving rise to the requested need for protection from "imminent danger." Remember, however, that a civil complaint such as this document is a public record and a copy of the complaint will be presented to the person to be restrained ("respondent"). Also, whatever is set forth in the complaint for "temporary" restraining order will be the subject of the court hearing on the next step, the "permanent restraining order."

Sometimes the evidence that supports the restraining order is electronic: social media, posted pictures or video, or voice messages on cellphones. This evidence must be preserved for use at the hearing for the permanent restraining order. Attorneys handling these kinds of matters know how to use investigators and technical persons to document and support the case so that this kind of evidence is admitted to the court at the hearing.

Colorado law permit a court to permanently restrain another person if the court finds: 1) that the respondent committed acts constituting grounds for issuance of a civil protection order and 2) that, unless restrained, the respondent will continue to commit such acts or acts designed to intimidate or retaliate against the protected person. A finding of "imminent danger" is not required for the court to permanently restrain another person.

Although many people seeking restraining orders want them to be permanent, sometimes just a "cooling off" period is needed. The law provides that a court can maintain the "temporary" restraining order in place for up to one year if the court finds there is good cause to do so and both parties agree to the extension. If the temporary restraining order awards temporary custody of a child in a dissolution proceeding, that means that, if the temporary restraining order is extended for a year, the custody of the child will remain "temporary" with the custodial parent for up to a year.

Once the temporary restraining order is converted to a permanent restraining order, it becomes an order for the life of the respondent (person restrained), although the respondent may seek every 2 years to have the court modify the order. In the case of firearms prohibitions, entry of a permanent restraining order means that the respondent would be banned from possessing any firearm for the rest of his or her life.

Whether you are seeking protection from another person, or have been accused of acts which would result in "imminent danger" to another, resolution of these matters can affect not only your life, but the lives of many others in your family and, even, potentially limit your future occupations or ability to work. Consider an initial consultation with attorneys experienced in such matters, such as those attorneys at Clawson & Clawson LLP. Once you understand your options, you will be in the best position to make the best decisions.

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