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How to File a Protection Order against Your Spouse



No one should have to put up with an abusive or controlling spouse. If you are filing for divorce, you and your spouse will automatically be issued something called a temporary injunction. This is a type of less severe restraining order.

Under the temporary injunction, both parties are prohibited from “disturbing the peace” of the other spouse. You will not be able to change, waste, or move marital assets, nor will you be able to move children out of the state of Colorado.

For many people, a temporary injunction is enough. It prevents a manipulative spouse from trying to obtain all of the marital property or assets before a divorce. But what if you are less worried about your assets and more worried about your health and safety?

Spouses who are threatened with physical harm or have suffered physical abuse are urged to file a formal protection order (also known as a restraining order). Taking action to protect yourself may be difficult because you fear how they will react. But often it is the only way to get out of a frightening situation and hammer the message home that their behavior is not acceptable.

So how do you do it?

What Is Involved in Filing a Protection Order 

Who can file a protection order? Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or unlawful sexual contact, or who lives in fear of harm from their spouse has the legal right to file a protection order against him or her.

Protection orders can be filed with the county court. (In cases where the courts are not open, you can still file an emergency protection order.) The proper forms can be found on the Colorado Judicial Department’s website.

You will need to file the Verified Complaint/Motion for Protection Order as well as the Information Sheet for Registering a Protection Order. Depending on your situation, you may need to fill out other forms, including an incident report.

If you are seeking a protection order against your spouse and want to protect your children, you can file an Affidavit Regarding Children (provided that your spouse is the parent of your children) or include your children’s names in the Verified Complain/Motion for Civil Protection Order (if your spouse is not the parent of your children).

Protection orders against children are valid for 120 days. Continuing the order will have to be arranged in District Court.

Temporary vs. Permanent Restraining Orders

When a judge first approves your request, a temporary restraining order (TRO) will be issued to your spouse and the conditions of the restraining order will begin. TROs last for up to 14 days.

When your spouse is issued a TRO, he or she will also receive a court date so a judge can determine whether or not a permanent restraining order (PRO) will need to be issued. PROs last up to one year in the state of Colorado. They can be modified, removed, or renewed by filling out forms in the same court that filed the original PRO.

What Does a Restraining Order Do?

Different restraining orders come with different terms. Most restraining orders will prohibit your spouse from trying to contact you or see you. This means your spouse will not be allowed to visit your home or see your children. In some cases, the restraining order will allow police to retrieve and move your spouse’s personal items.

Your spouse may also have to pay for medical damages and losses that were caused by an incident of domestic violence or abuse. Depending on the circumstances, protection orders may require your spouse to attend anger management courses or enter substance abuse treatment.

It is important to understand that a restraining order will not sentence your spouse to jail time. However, if your spouse commits a crime or violates your protection order, he or she will face criminal charges and may be sentenced to jail.

Do Protection Orders Affect Child Custody?

Yes. No matter what state you are currently in with your spouse, you will have to disclose any information about protection orders that have been issued against either party in the past two years. This includes criminal protection orders as well as civil protection orders (whether they are emergency, temporary, or permanent.)

Colorado determines child custody and child support payments based on the best interests of the child. In most cases, sole custody will be considered when a spouse has been issued a restraining order.

Throughout your divorce proceedings, especially when you are dealing with an abusive or manipulative spouse, it is important to have an experienced Colorado family lawyer by your side who can make sure that your rights – and your family – are protected.

About the Author:

Vernon Ready is an award-winning Colorado lawyer with an in-depth understanding of all areas of family law, estate planning, and personal injury. His energetic and aggressive advocacy approach allow him to successfully navigate complex cases, including high asset divorce and complicated custody issues. During his time at the University of Colorado Law School, Ready won numerous awards for his trial advocacy skills. Since being admitted to practice in 2009, Ready has become well-known throughout Denver and the state for the passionate defense of his clients and his unparalleled understanding of the law.