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Questions About Domestic Violence


What is a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order?

A Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order (DVCPO) is a Court order that can prohibit a person, called the Respondent, from engaging in certain acts. The person filing, called the Petitioner, can request a number of protections to prevent him/her from being in fear of violence or threats of violence. Examples of protections can include but are not limited to:
  • Directs the respondent to refrain from abusing or from committing sexually oriented offenses against the family or household members
  • Grants possession of the residence or household to the petitioner or other family or household member or by ordering the respondent to vacate the premises, when the residence or household is jointly owned or leased by the respondent
  • Temporarily allocate parental rights and responsibilities for the care of, or establish temporary parenting time rights with regard to, minor children, if no other court has determined, or is determining, the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities for the minor children or parenting time rights
  • Require the respondent to refrain from entering the residence, school, business, or place of employment of the petitioner or family or household member

The Petitioner and protected parties can be granted relief from these and other acts for a maximum of five years as determined necessary through party agreement or a magistrate’s decision. A DVCPO is an enforceable order that if violated by the Respondent can result in criminal charges.

Who can file for a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order?

Anyone can file for a Domestic Violence Civil Protection as long as they meet the “family or household member” requirements and there has been an act of domestic violence or threat of domestic violence as defined by Ohio Revised Code Section 3113.31. A family or household member includes spouse, former spouse, people with children in common, former cohabitants engaged in a romantic relationship within the last 5 years, or other family members by blood or marriage who have cohabited within the last 5 years.

Where do I file a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order?

To file for a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order you must come to The Cuyahoga County Courthouse located at 1 W. Lakeside Ave. Cleveland, OH 44113, Room 48 in the basement (G on the elevator). We are not located in the Justice Center.

Do I need to file with an attorney?

You do not need to file with an attorney or have an attorney represent you at any hearing. However, the Court highly recommends you obtain legal representation. If you choose to move forward without the assistance of an attorney you will be held to the same standards as one. You must follow the Court rules and guidelines, including but not limited to properly submitting evidence and calling witnesses. If you do not follow these rules during the hearings your case could be dismissed. The Court staff and advocates cannot provide you with legal advice or legal assistance. For legal assistance you can contact:

  • The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (216) 687-1900
  • The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (216) 696-3525


What is the filing process without an attorney?

If you are filing on your own behalf, when you arrive you will meet with one of our staff members who will explain the filing process and go over the intake forms you need to fill out.

The intake form can be found
here.

Once those forms have been completed, notarized, and filed at the Clerk of Courts you will give your testimony on the record to a Judge or Magistrate as to why you are requesting a Protection Order. This hearing is called the “Ex Parte Hearing.” The Judge or Magistrate will then issue or deny a TEMPORARY EMERGENCY CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER. The decision will be based on your imminent safety concerns and will immediately go into effect if granted.

Regardless of the outcome of the Ex Parte Hearing you will be scheduled for a second hearing called the “Full Hearing.” This will be scheduled for 7-10 Court days later and you will know the scheduled date and time before you leave. After your Ex Parte Hearing you will receive copies of your Civil Protection Order. If available, you will meet briefly with our Case Manager who will complete an assessment of your specific risk factors and provide you with appropriate community referrals. This process may last between 3 and 5 hours depending on how many Pro Se litigants are filing and the availability of the Judges and Magistrates. However, our staff will work efficiently as possible in order to decrease your wait time and expedite the filing process.

What happens at my second hearing?

At your second hearing a number of different things can happen:

  1. If the Respondent has been properly served with the documents and chooses to participate in the Full Hearing he or she may be granted one continuance. This means your Full Hearing will be re-scheduled and you will come back on a different day.

  2. The second option for your Full Hearing is a Consent Agreement Civil Protection Order. If the Respondent has been properly served and chooses to participate in the Full Hearing a Consent Agreement Civil Protection Order may be established. This means our Case Manager would work between the Petitioner and Respondent to create a Protection Order that both parties agree to in terms of what the Order says and how long it is in effect for.

  3. The third option for your Full Hearing is a trial. If the Respondent has been properly served and chooses to participate in the Full Hearing either party can ask to go to trial that same day. At the trial the Petitioner will have the burden of proof based on the preponderance of evidence that an act or acts of domestic violence have occurred. You will be held to the same standards as an attorney and must follow the proper procedures and local rules during this trial. At the conclusion of the trial the Magistrate will write a decision to either grant or deny the Civil Protection Order and you will receive a copy of this decision in the mail.

  4. If the Respondent has NOT been properly served either by Sheriff's Deputies or certified mail the hearing cannot move forward. The Court will wait 30 minutes past the scheduled hearing time for the Respondent to arrive. After 30 minutes, if the Respondent has not appeared, the hearing date and time will be reset and the Petitioner will be responsible for perfecting service. A new address may be needed or a different method of service may be attempted.


You do NOT need to file with an attorney or have one present for any hearing, but it is recommended. The Court will NOT provide you or the Respondent with an attorney. If you choose to have an attorney represent you it will be your responsibility to obtain one. Court staff and Advocates will NOT provide you with any legal advice or legal assistance. For legal assistance you can contact:
 
  • The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (216) 687-1900
  • The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (216) 696-3525


Will there be an Advocate available, and what is their role?

Our department has two full time Advocates to provide advocacy services during, before, and after the Protection Order process. They work for the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center but have offices located in room 48 of our DV Department. They will provide emotional support and guide you through the process while connecting you with other services and valuable community resources. The Advocates will NOT provide you with any legal advice or legal assistance. If you need to speak with someone outside of the Court’s normal business hours (8:30am-4:30pm, Monday – Friday) please call:

  • Domestic Violence HELP Line (216)391-4357


Do the Police or Law Enforcement need to be involved to get a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order?

The Police or Law Enforcement do not need to be involved prior to filing. If you have made Police reports or contacted Prosecutors about a domestic violence situation you may bring any documents they have provided to you at the time of filing. If you are unsure as to whether or not you have a Temporary Protection Order issued on your behalf in a criminal case please contact the law enforcement agency handling the case for this information. If you have addition questions about when to file for a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order please contact our staff at:

  • Domestic Violence Department (216) 443-2046


What should I bring with me?

  1. Your Photo ID - this is necessary for notarizing court documents
  2. Address of the person you are filing against - this is necessary for service
  3. Intake Form and Statement to the Court - not required


What do I do if someone has filed against me?

If you have received papers from a Sheriff's Deputy or in the mail stating there is a Protection Order against you, please be sure to read all the paperwork carefully. This order is a Court Order and if violated could result in your arrest or criminal charges. The date and time of when you need to be at our Court is located in the Order, typically on the last page. You will need to be present on this date/time and be prepared to present any information in your defense. The Court will not give you any legal advice or provide you with an attorney. If you choose to represent yourself you must follow the same Court Rules as if you were an attorney. For legal assistance you may call:

  • The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (216) 696-3525