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What’s different about protective orders against military members?

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2021 | Family Law |

Both Arizona and military law offer protections against domestic abuse and violence. If you are experiencing emotional or psychological abuse, economic control, interference with your personal liberties, threats of force, attempts at force or violence by an intimate partner, you can get an order of protection from an Arizona court or a military protection order from your spouse’s unit commander. In either case, the protective order is enforceable on and off base.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

In Arizona, an order of protection is a court order telling your abuser to stop the abuse and leave you alone. Each order of protection (also called a “restraining order” or “protective order”) can be tailored to the individual situation, but generally, these orders:

  • Tell the defendant (your abuser) to move out of your shared residence
  • Tell the defendant to stay away from you, your home, your workplace and your school
  • Tell the defendant not to abuse or neglect any household animals
  • Can tell the defendant to surrender their weapons and make them ineligible to possess weapons

Additionally, separate criminal charges could be filed against your abuser. And, violating an order of protection is itself a crime.

The process for getting a protective order

An initial, temporary order can be issued on an emergency basis without the defendant being notified first. However, the defendant will have a chance to respond to the allegations in a hearing after the initial order is issued.

Because a petition for an order of protection is a civil matter, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act applies. That means your abuser can ask for a delay in the hearing if they are on active duty and their military service affects their ability to participate. However, not all defendants will ask for a delay.

At the hearing, you will need to present evidence that you are being abused, as defined by Arizona law. You will need to show it is more likely than not that you are being abused. The defendant will have a chance to prove it is more likely than not that you are not being abused. Ultimately, a judge will decide whether you have proved your case and, if so, issue a permanent order or protection.

There is no legal requirement that you have a lawyer present your case, but it can be extremely helpful.

Can I remain in military housing?

If you are not the service member, you will have to leave your military housing even if your abuser has moved out. You have 30 days to move out.

Will my abuser be allowed to have firearms?

Yes and no. Federal law automatically prohibits people who are subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms or ammunition. However, military service members and law enforcement officers are nevertheless allowed to continue to carry a weapon while on duty. Your abuser will not be allowed to possess weapons at any other time for the duration of your order of protection.

Get help

If you are suffering from domestic abuse or violence, a protective order could help put an end to it. Talk to an experienced family law attorney about whether an order of protection is appropriate in your circumstances, whether to seek one in an Arizona court or from your partner’s unit commander, and what other issues may arise due to military service.