Expedited Hearing and Lower Standard of Proof in Orders for Protection (OFP)
An Order for Protection (OFP) is a restraining order to prevent domestic abuse between family members. In many cases, a parent may bring an Order for Protection on behalf of a minor child which seeks to modify custody and parenting time provisions established in a family court proceedings. Seeking an OFP results in a rapid process that can significantly impact the rights of a parent to custody and parenting time.
Given the significance of the proceeding and what is at stake, it is extremely important to retain counsel and prepare as soon as possible. Below we address some of the significant procedural concerns to consider.
Since this type of physical conflict is the subject of a great many police calls and dangerous situations, the domestic abuse act treats OFP proceedings in an expedited fashion. That means hearings on allegations of abuse occur very quickly. If no Ex Parte Order has issued, the court must schedule a hearing to occur not later than 14 days from the date of the order for hearing. If Ex Parte (emergency) relief is granted, the hearing must occur within 7 days and Respondent may be served up to 12 hours prior to that hearing date. Continuances can be granted for up to five days unless good cause for a lengthier continuance is shown.
Given the short timeline, retaining counsel immediately is imperative.
LOW BURDEN OF PROOF
In addition to having hearings scheduled with a limited ability to prepare, the court also applies a liberal construction to the proceedings in favor of the person alleging injury. Swenson v. Swenson, 490 N.W.2d 668, 670 (Minn. Ct. App. 1992). Decisions on contested allegations are also made based on the lowest threshold of proof in law, a preponderance of the evidence. This means a court may issue an OFP if it finds one party more believable than another. Minn. R. Gen. P. 301.01 (b)3.
In some counties like Ramsey County, cases are blocked to the same Judge if there is a companion family law case such as a dissolution of marriage, custody, paternity or CHIPS case.
To present a case properly, it is important to contact and, in some cases subpoena, important witnesses to attend court and testify.
Attorney Maury D. Beaulier is recognized as a successful aggressive and experienced litigator in proceedings for an Order for Protection. Flat fees for representation are available in most counties. Call for a FREE consultation.