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
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.