In Missouri, any adult or child who has been subjected “. . . to domestic violence by a present or former family or household member, or who has been the victim of stalking or sexual assault, may seek relief” by filing a petition, seeking an order of protection.1 An “adult” is a person seventeen years of age or older, and a “child”, seventeen years of age who is unemancipated.2 The petitioner (i.e., the victim of abuse) may file a petition for an order of protection in the county of the petitioner’s residence, the county where the respondent may be served or the county where the act of alleged abuse occurred.3 An “order of protection” may refer to an ex parte order or a full order of protection (FOP). 4
An ex parte order of protection may be “. . . issued by the court before the respondent [viz. the alleged abuser] has received notice of the petition or has had an opportunity to be heard” on the allegation(s) of abuse.5 Should one file for an ex parte order of protection, the court may (but, is not required to) immediately grant the requested relief.6 If granted, the court may order the respondent to commit no further abuse of the petitioner, restrain the respondent from entering the petitioner’s residence, prohibit the respondent from communicating with the petitioner (through any method or medium) and temporarily determine the custody of their minor children.7
Except for good cause shown, the court must hold a hearing, after notice to the respondent, of the abuse allegations within fifteen (15) days after the petition’s filing.8 This hearing solicits a “full order of protection” (FOP), which may be “. . . issued [only] after a hearing on the record in which the respondent has received notice of the proceedings and had an opportunity to be heard” on the abuse allegations(s).9
At the FOP hearing, if the petitioner establishes (by a preponderance of the evidence) that the respondent committed, without legal justification, the abuse alleged within the petition, then the court must issue a FOP. That FOP can include any of the relief available under an ex parte order, but can also include: an award of custody of their minor children,10 spousal maintenance,11 child support,12 and temporary possession of specified personal property (e.g., a vehicle);13 and orders directing respondent to participate in a court-approved counseling or substance-abuse treatment program, as applicable,14 and to pay medical costs resulting from the abuse,15 for rent or mortgage payments on a dwelling occupied by both parties,16 and for court costs.17 Much of the relief, available to an adult in an adult FOP, is available to a child in a child (full) order of protection (COP).
If you propose to seek a full order of protection (or defend against another’s solicitation of such an order), your prospect of obtaining a favorable result shall be enhanced by your retaining experienced and competent legal counsel to assist you. At trial, you will be required to submit only relevant facts, abide by applicable substantive law, as well as evidentiary and state and local court rules of civil procedure and courtroom demeanor.
Should you or your child have been the victim of domestic violence or stalking or, should you have been accused of domestic violence or stalking another, please promptly contact our office to schedule a confidential consultation.
1Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 455.020(1) (2015) and 455.505(1) (2015).
2§ 455.010(2-3) (2015).
3§ 455.015 and §455.503(1) (2015).
4§ 455.010(9) (2015).
5Id. at (6) (emphasis not in original).
6Id. at § 455.035(1) (2013).
7Id. at § 455.045 (2015).
8Id. at § 455.040 (2015).
9Id. at (8) (emphasis not in original).
10Id. at § 455.050.3(1) (2016).
11Id. at (4).
12Id. at (3).
13Id. at (7).
14Id. at (9).
15Id. at (12).
16Id. at (5).
17Id. at (11).