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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.

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