When a marriage is dying, one spouse often acts out the frustration, anger
and powerlessness against the other spouse (usually against the one seeking
a dissolution of the marriage). Colorado family law offers a procedure
for entry of a court order that protects any person from threatened bodily harm,
domestic abuse, emotional abuse, sexual assault or stalking by another person. These
are called “civil protection orders.” In a divorce case the law also permits a judge to enter temporary,
and permanent, orders that protects one spouse from misconduct by the
other spouse while the dissolution case is pending.
Civil Protection Orders for Divorce in Colorado
Commonly, a spouse will file a petition for dissolution of the marriage
and, at the same time, ask the judge to enter a civil protection order
prohibiting domestic abuse, contact or conduct by the other spouse. The
spouse requesting a civil protection order must assert under oath that
the other spouse is likely to commit bodily harm or domestic abuse or
emotional abuse or sexual abuse or stalking. The judge assigned to the
divorce case is authorized to issue a temporary protection order based
on the sworn allegations of the spouse seeking the order. To be eligible
for a protection order, the spouse does not need to show that he or she
has reported the act that is the subject of the complaint to law enforcement
or show that charges have been filed or show that the spouse is participating
in the prosecution of a criminal matter arising out of the other spouse’s conduct.
Conditions for Obtaining a Restraining Order
The judge handling the divorce case can issue a temporary civil protection
order if the judge finds that an imminent danger exists to the person
seeking the protection order. The court cannot deny the spouse the protection
order simply based on the length of time between an act of abuse or threat
of harm and the filing of the petition for the order. In the divorce case,
the judge will set a hearing date for both spouses (and attorneys) to
appear to discuss the temporary civil protection order, along with other
temporary orders that may have been entered. At that hearing, the judge
may continue the temporary order in place or suspend it based on assurances
of the other spouse that he or she will not engage in the feared misconduct.
Permanent Protection Orders
Often the offending spouse threatens to continue the misconduct even after
the divorce is made final. In that case, the judge in the divorce case
can hold a hearing with both parties having the opportunity to appear
and, based on the evidence at that hearing, grant a permanent protection
order to eliminate all future contact for the spouse’s future protection.
The judge does not need to find an “imminent danger” to the
requesting spouse when entering the permanent protection order. The judge
need only conclude that the prohibited acts against the requesting spouse
will likely continue if a permanent protection order is not entered.
Divorce cases involving the potential of spousal physical or emotional
abuse are ones that should have the assistance of experienced family law
attorneys. The experienced attorneys at Clawson & Clawson LLP are
available to consult on complex divorce cases, especially when there are
issues of spousal misconduct that have lead to the break down of the marriage.
The family law and divorce attorneys at Clawson & Clawson LLP know
how to protect a spouse during a difficult and conflicted divorce proceeding,
as well as to ensure that the court’s protection of the spouse will
continue after the divorce is final.