If you are living in fear because of another person, you may want to consider getting a restraining order, also known as a personal protection order (PPO). Getting a PPO against someone means a judge will limit contact between you and that person.
For instance, if you are being stalked by an ex-boyfriend, you could ask that the judge prohibit any contact in person or through electronic means. If the order is violated, that person may face jail time, a fine, or both. The first step in obtaining a PPO is identifying which type of PPO you need.
1. Identify which PPO you need
In Michigan, there are three different types of restraining orders: Domestic Relationship PPOs, Nondomestic PPOs, and Nondomestic Sexual Assault PPOs.
Domestic Relationship PPO
You will want a domestic relationship PPO if you want protection from:
- Your current or ex-spouse
- Your child’s other parent
- Someone you currently or used to reside with
- Someone you have dated
You will want a nondomestic PPO if you want protection from someone with whom you don’t have a domestic relationship with. For instance, if a stranger is stalking you, you need to file a nondomestic PPO.
Nondomestic Sexual Assault PPO
You will want a nondomestic sexual assault PPO if you have been threatened with sexual assault, or sexually assaulted, by an individual who you are not in a relationship with. Additionally, nondomestic sexual assault PPOs can be filed against an individual who gives, or attempts to give, a minor obscene material.
2. File a petition
Once you know what type of PPO you are seeking, you need to fill out and file the petition in any circuit court in Michigan unless the abuser is a minor. If that’s the case, you need to file the petition in the circuit court for the county you live in or the county the minor lives in. The following links provide detailed instructions for filling out the paperwork necessary for each type of PPO:
3. Serve the petition and file the proof of service with the court
After you, the petitioner, have filed a petition with the court, you need to have the petition served on the respondent, which is the person you are trying to get a restraining order against. Make sure the information you provide is valid so the court can get in touch with you. You, or anyone else involved in the matter, may not serve the respondent. Otherwise, any legally competent adult can serve the petition.
Often, a court officer can be paid to serve the petition for you. After the respondent is served, a proof of service is filled out and filed with the court by the person who served the petition. This proves to the court that the respondent is aware that you filed a petition for a PPO against them. The proof of service you need to fill out and file can be found in the above links for instructions on filling out a PPO.
Make sure you put someone else’s address and phone number on the petition if you want to keep that information confidential, as the document will be available to the respondent and the public.
4. Appear before a judge (unless you file an ex-parte order)
After you file your petition you will be given a court date. You will need to appear before a judge on that date and he/she will review your petition and decide whether or not to issue a PPO. You will be given an opportunity to tell the judge your side of the story at the hearing and may provide witnesses. The individual you are seeking a PPO against has a right to be at the hearing and tell their side as well.
If the judge decides to sign a PPO, it is enforceable anywhere in Michigan. Once the order is served on the respondent, the PPO is enforceable anywhere in the United States. The court will send a copy of the PPO to a police department but it’s always a good idea to follow up with the police and make sure they received the order and have entered it into the Law Enforcement Information Network. The police department should be listed on the order.
If you fear you will be harmed if the person knows you are seeking a PPO, you will want to request an ex-parte order. To do this, you will check the box on the petition that requests such. When you request an ex-parte order, the respondent is unaware you are trying to get a restraining order. They won’t find out about the PPO until the judge signs it.
Keep in mind that there is no guarantee a judge will sign an ex-parte order or a PPO. Be sure to provide the judge with documentation of harassment or harm against you if you have it, such as a police report or threatening text messages, to help you get the PPO.
- Here is a resource that helps you draft a restraining order.
- This link gives instructions for filling out the PPO form and explains the legal process.
Sarah Tarockoff is the Paralegal at The Law Offices of Barton Morris. She earned a Paralegal Certificate from Oakland Community College in 2015 and graduated from Oakland University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a concentration in criminal justice. She completed internships at the 52-3 District Court where she aided probation officers in the Probation Department and at Bernstein & Bernstein, where she worked closely with attorneys and paralegals on various litigation-related matters.