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How to Get a Protection Order Against an Abusive Spouse

Suffering abuse at the hands of your spouse is terrifying. The person you thought would be there to protect you has now turned into your worst nightmare. However, under Missouri law, you and your loved ones are entitled to protection from further harm through a protection order.

Obtaining an order of protection is crucial in protecting yourself and your family, but it can be a complicated process. Through the guidance of a skilled Columbia family law attorney, you can get the protection you need.

What is a Protection Order?

An order or protection is a legal order from a judge to prevent someone from being abused, harassed, or stalked by a household member or intimate partner. According to the Missouri Domestic Violence Act, a person can seek an order of protection from acts, attempts, or threats of abuse from a family or household member, an intimate partner, or from someone that is stalking or sexually assaulting them.

The petitioner (the person filing the protective order) must be at least 17 years old or be emancipated. Additionally, someone filing a protection order based on abuse must be:

  • A spouse or former spouse

  • Relative by blood or marriage

  • Current or former live-in girlfriend or boyfriend

  • Have a child together

  • Have or had a continuing relationship of romantic or intimate nature

Types of Orders of Protection

Missouri courts can order an “order of protection” under the Domestic Violence Act that prevents someone from abusing, stalking, sexually assaulting, or harassing another person. An order of protection is different from a restraining order because violators face criminal penalties.

Missouri has two types of orders for protection: an ex parte order and a full order of protection.

Ex Parte Order

An ex parte order is an emergency order that temporarily protects a victim of abuse. The court issues it before the person against whom the order is directed to has received notice of the petition or has an opportunity to be heard in court. The purpose of the order is to grant emergency protection until a court hearing can be held, which must be within 15 days or less from the date the ex parte order was filed.


An ex parte order will be granted if there is “good cause” to show that abuse, stalking, or harassment has occurred. If the court grants the emergency order, it will remain effective until a full hearing is held or the 15 days have expired. If the order is denied, you can still file for a full protection order hearing.

Full Order of Protection

A full order of protection is issued after an official hearing where the person to who the order is directed has received notice of the petition and has had the opportunity to state their case. In the hearing, both parties get to tell their side of the story, and the court will make a decision after listening to each party.

If the court finds the petitioner to be the subject of abuse or harassment, the judge will issue a full protective order. Typically, this order or protection will last between 180 days to a year. If necessary, the order may be extended.

How to Obtain a Protective Order

A protection order can be tailored to fit you and your family’s specific situation, but in general, it will:

  • Put distance restrictions between the abuser and you,

  • Prohibit or limit contact between you and your abuser, and

  • Prohibit the abuser from entering your home or other specific location

Obtaining an order of protection can potentially be life-saving for you and your family. If your spouse is abusive or threatening abuse, do not wait until it is too late to take action. Speak to our Columbus family law attorneys at Rutter and Sleeth Law Offices about filing appropriate documents to protect you and your loved ones from harm.

Remember, you are never alone. Call Rutter and Sleeth Law Offices today at (573) 279-1349 if you need help obtaining a protective order from your spouse.