More Information Regarding Domestic Violence


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What is a domestic violence civil protection order?

A Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order is granted by the Domestic Relations Court to victims who have a special relationship with the abuser AND meet the legal definition of being in danger of domestic violence. These orders can last for five years and the abuser can be arrested and put in jail for violating the order. In addition to orders limiting or prohibiting contact between the victim and the abuser, the court can issue orders concerning related issues such as payment of the victim's bills, where any children of the victim and abuser will live, whether there will be any visitation, and the payment of child support. The abuser can also be ordered to participate in counseling. It does not cost the victim anything to get a civil protection order.

Procedures for obtaining a domestic violence civil protection order (CPO)

To obtain a CPO, you will need the following documents (all of these are available from the Mahoning County Office of Domestic Violence Assistance, which is currently located in the Basement Level of the Mahoning County Courthouse. They are also available on this web site. Either click on the appropriate form below, or go to the Domestic Violence Forms table of contents.)

1. The Petition for a Domestic Violence CPO;

2. If you will be requesting temporary custody of a child, a Parenting Proceeding Affidavit form.

Submitting the petition for a domestic violence CPO

Present your completed Petition for a CPO form, and if applicable, your completed Parenting Proceeding Affidavit, to the Mahoning County Office of Domestic Violence Assistance or the Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court (Basement Level).

Even though you are in an abusive relationship, you may not qualify for a civil protection order. The law has limitations on who can ask for these orders and what kinds of abusive behavior are considered to be "domestic violence." Talk to your attorney if you have one. However, you do not need an attorney in order to come to court.

Most importantly, if you are in an abusive relationship and want protection by the court, try to get it. If you do not qualify, you will be told where you can go to get help. Do not be afraid to come to court just because you think you might not get the protection you want.

Office of domestic violence assistance (VALU program)

Ohio law permits you to have a victim advocate with you at all times in court during protection order proceedings. The Mahoning County Domestic Violence Office, with the assistance of Volunteer Advocacy Legal Unit (VALU) volunteers, assists victims of domestic violence with the process of obtaining a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order (CPO). Applicants are processed on a walk-in basis and no appointment is necessary. However, applicants are encouraged to arrive as early as possible for assistance.

VALU volunteers assist the person applying for a CPO in completing all necessary forms. The VALU volunteer also attends the hearing and provides support for victims of domestic violence. During the interview process, volunteers can also assess the need for counseling, shelter, food, or other types of assistance and make a referral to the appropriate agency.

VALU volunteers are available in the Basement Level of the Mahoning County Courthouse, 120 Market Street, in Downtown Youngstown, Ohio, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. For additional information, you may call 330-742-5857 or 330-742-5856.

VALU is a program wholly operated by Northeast Ohio Legal Services with no formal relationship to the Court. The program was established in 1994 with funding from the Junior League of Youngstown to provide assistance to victims of Domestic Violence.

Attending the ex parte court hearing

You must appear before a judge or magistrate for the ex parte hearing, where the judge or magistrate will listen to your testimony. You should tell the judge or magistrate what the respondent did to make you fear that you (or another family member) may be in danger. Tell the judge or magistrate if the respondent injured you, attempted to injure you, or threatened you.

Tell the judge or magistrate what you would like the court to do to help keep you and other family members safe and to protect the best interests of any children. For example:

1 . Order the respondent to stay away from you;

2. Order the respondent to be removed from your home;

3. Order the respondent to get counseling;

4. Award temporary custody of children to you;

5. Order the respondent to have visitation only under conditions that will keep you and the children safe;

6. Order the respondent to pay you child support and/or spousal support;

7. Order the respondent to be prohibited from having any weapons;

8. Award possession of a car for your use;

9. Award possession of your personal property and the children's personal property.

If you have told the judge or magistrate reasons why you should get a CPO, and the judge or magistrate determines that you or your family or household members are in immediate danger of domestic violence, he or she will issue an Ex Parte CPO. This order is temporary and it will remain in effect until a second hearing.

The judge or magistrate will set a second hearing (called a "full hearing") in 7 to 10 days, to give the respondent a chance to be heard. You must also appear at the full hearing. Some issues, such as support, may be postponed until this second hearing when both parties may be present.

Attending the full hearing

You as the "petitioner" must attend the full hearing. If you do not appear for the full hearing, your case will be dismissed. The respondent is not required to attend this hearing, but he or she will be given the opportunity to respond to what the petitioner said the respondent "did or threatened to do" in the petition that was filed.

At the full hearing you must tell your story again, this time in more detail. Bring with you any witnesses, photos, or papers that will help you prove that the respondent injured you (or another family member), attempted to injure you, or threatened you. Tell the judge or magistrate why you fear the respondent. Tell the judge or magistrate again what you want the court to do to help keep you and other family members safe.

The respondent may also present evidence. The respondent may call you as a witness and ask you questions.

After the hearing, if the judge or magistrate decides you are entitled to a CPO, he/she will issue a new CPO called a "Full Hearing CPO." This CPO is usually more detailed than the Ex Parte CPO. By law, the court may not issue any orders against you unless the respondent has filed a separate action against you.

At the full hearing, you and the respondent can also decide to enter into a "CPO by agreement." This will be explained at the full hearing.

Enforcement of your CPO

Your CPO remains in effect for five years, unless the court sets a different expiration date.

Violation of a CPO is a crime in Ohio. If the Respondent violates the CPO, contact the police to make a report.

Certain violations of CPOs may also be grounds for a contempt action against the respondent in Domestic Relations Court. There is a contempt motion form available at the VALU office. You must complete the contempt motion and file it with the Mahoning County Clerk of Courts to begin a contempt action against the respondent.

A Respondent may be sentenced to jail for violation of a CPO, through either the criminal or the civil contempt process.


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Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court
120 Market St.
Youngstown, OH
44503

Phone: 330-740-2208
Fax: 330-740-2503