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Divorce is never easy and often can be contentious. Divorcing couples have a lot on their minds and last thing either spouse wants to think about is the prospect of facing criminal charges. This is possible, however, if there is a court-issued Order of Protection in place.
Orders of Protection usually arise when there is a dispute, either physical or verbal, between two parties. One instance in which an Order of Protection may be issued is when one spouse is physically abusive or has unwanted physical contact with the other spouse. In addition to facing a criminal charge like assault, the Court will issue an Order of Protection requiring the abusive spouse to stay away from his or her spouse. Moreover, a Court may issue an Order of Protection when one spouse is verbally abusive towards the other or makes excessive attempts to communicate with the other spouse for no legitimate purpose.
Orders of Protection can be issued in Criminal Court as well as Family Court. There are two types of Orders of Protection, a “Full Stay-Away” Order of Protection or a “Refrain From” Order of Protection. A Full Stay-Away Order of Protection means that one party is to have absolutely no contact, either verbal or physical, with the other party. This includes all types of communication, including electronic, and even an attempt to communicate with the other party, i.e., initiating a phone call or sending a text message, can be considered a violation of the order.
Another type of Order of Protection is a “Refrain From,” also referred to at times as a “No Illegal Contact” Order of Protection. When this type of order is in place, one party can still have physical and/or verbal contact with the other party. The caveat is that the spouse who must abide by the Order of Protection must refrain from doing anything illegal against the other spouse. Illegal activities listed on a “Refrain From” Order of Protection include, but are not limited to, assault, stalking, harassment and intimidation.
Divorcing couples need to be cognizant of Orders of Protection in place because any willful violation of an order can lead to an arrest for a charge such as Criminal Contempt. Contact an attorney if you are seeking a divorce and feel that an Order of Protection may be necessary in your situation, or if your spouse has violated an existing Order of Protection.