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A short FAQ on Colorado's restraining orders

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All too often, divorce leads to heated conflicts. People can get angry and desperate, and they may show their worst. A spouse may become violent or menacing. Other people may stay clear of violence but may still threaten their spouses by stalking them or hiding things like keys to limit their movement.

Because these situations can leave people feeling unsafe, it’s relatively common for people going through divorces to seek protection. In Colorado, one of the ways people can address these concerns is by getting a protection order—also known as a restraining order—against the person causing the threats or abuse.

What does a protection order do?

A protection order is a legal document that requires the other person to leave you alone. It can put limits on the other person’s ability to threaten or stalk you, as well as to approach you, your residence, workplace and property.

Will a protection order prevent a parent from seeing his or her children?

A protection order against the parent of your children won’t usually prevent that person from visiting the children but may set limits on how those visits are arranged. On the other hand, if the other parent has abused or threatened the children, you may file a separate protection order for them, as well.

What are the penalties for violating a protection order?

According to the Colorado criminal code, violating a protection order is typically a class 2 misdemeanor, but the charges become more serious in the case of repeat offenses. Repeat offenses may turn into “extraordinary risk crimes” with more serious sentencing guidelines.

How does someone get a protection order?

The process for getting a Colorado protection order is fairly streamlined. You do not need to win a criminal case or even file criminal charges. Instead, you can file a petition and present your evidence to the court. If the court finds reason to believe you or your children may be in danger, it will enter a protection order.

How could a protection order affect my custody case?

If you are the recipient of a protection order, you want to follow it. A protection order against your spouse, on its own, won’t keep you from being awarded parenting time. However, it may factor into the court’s decisions about parenting responsibilities.

What if my spouse files a false claim against me?

All too often, a person in the middle of a divorce will file for a protection order to gain an unfair legal advantage in a custody battle. If you find yourself facing a protection order based on false claims, it’s important to follow the order and to challenge it. Because the standards for protection orders favor the victim’s safety, it can be difficult to challenge one successfully. A successful challenge typically needs the guidance of a skilled attorney.

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