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:
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.
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.
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 53 in the basement (G on the elevator). We are not located in the Justice Center.
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:
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 on the Domestic Violence Forms page.
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.
At your second hearing a number of different things can happen:
If the Respondent has been properly served with the documents and chooses to participate in the Full Hearing thy have the option to ask for a continuance. This means your Full Hearing will be re-scheduled and you will come back on a different day.
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.
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, if the Magistrate's docket allows. 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. Both parties 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.
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:
Our department has one full time Advocate to provide advocacy services during, before, and after the Protection Order process. The advocate works for the Journey Center for Safety and Healing but has an office located in room 53 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 Advocate 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:
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:
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:
You can change the terms of a final order (Consent Agreement or Full Hearing Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order) in two ways:
1. By filing a Motion to Modify or Terminate with the court. Once you file this motion a hearing will be set before a Magistrate in approximately three weeks. The other party will need to be served with a copy of the motion before the Magistrate can made a decision regarding the changes you want to make to your current court order. If you want to request the court terminate or remove a current protection order in place you must file this official motion to modify or terminate.
2. If you do not want to wait for a hearing to be set on a formal motion or you believe yourself and the other party could reach an agreement about the changes you want to make you can request to participate in Case Management Modification. Information on these services can be found by clicking here.