DIFFICULTY: Legal assistance may be required
Initial Filing Fee: $10-$100 in service fees
In Michigan, a restraining order is referred to as a personal protection order. These orders are intended to stop any threats or violence that one person is committing against another or any minors and their guardian. When a person files for a personal protection order, or PPO, they are thenceforth referred to as the petitioner, while the person they are seeking protection from is referred to as the respondent. While you do not need a police report or other items to file for a PPO in Michigan, they can help your case greatly. Otherwise, you should try to recount the incidents relating to the order, including the dates they occurred, as accurately and in as much detail as possible. Additionally, for those who are worried about immediate injury or harm, there is no separate form for a temporary PPO, but rather a box located on the form titled “ex parte” that you will need to check. If you require any aid in this process, consult a domestic violence advocate or group nearby for aid, as clerks of the court are not allowed to provide advice and can simply direct you to the forms you request.
Step 1: Decide What Type of Order You Need
The first step towards establishing a PPO is to decide what type of order you require. The two types are domestic and nondomestic, the latter of which is sometimes referred to as stalking. A domestic PPO applies to any situation where a person wants protection from:
• A spouse or former spouse
• Someone with whom they have a child
• Someone they are dating or have dated in the past
• Someone who lives now, or has ever lived, in the same household as them
The PPO will only apply if you can somehow discuss or demonstrate that this person has interfered with your personal freedom or has threatened or committed violence against you. The second type of PPO is the nondomestic order, which referes to any situation where a person wants protection from someone who does not meet the above criteria and who has threatened, harassed, frightened, or molested them without consent on at least two occasions. If the case is against a minor child or for a minor child against a parent, however, you cannot get a PPO and will need to contact the Juvenile Division of the Family Court for information on how to proceed.
Step 2: Fill Out and File the Petition for a Personal Protection Order
After you know what type of PPO you require you can either go to the family court for a domestic petition or to the circuit court for a domestic or a nondomestic petition. Then you will need to fill out the petition and file it with the clerk of the court. It is important that you add as much detail as possible to your petition, and you must include any information about past orders or cases that have taken place between you and the respondent. Make use of descriptive language, such as slapping, choking, and so forth instead of broader terms which are open to interpretation, such as scarring or threatened. Also, make sure that you have four copies of the completed forms, as failure to provide the correct number of copies may prevent your petition from being filed. Finally, make sure to sign the forms in front of the clerk of court, as they can notarize the forms to verify that you are who you claim you are. If you are not applying for an Ex Parte PPO, make sure to ask the clerk to schedule a hearing, at which point they will give you a Notice of Hearing Form to fill out and instruct you concerning anything else you must do.
Step 3: Ex Parte Hearing
Once you have filed the petition you will receive a case number. If you are seeking temporary protection, which means you marked “ex parte” in your petition, you will eventually be called into a judge’s chamber. There, you will need to explain why you want a PPO, and if the judge agrees with your reasons they can grant an ex parte PPO that will protect you for at least 182 days. Then the clerk of court will provide you with a copy of the order, but make sure to review the order before you leave so you can correct any mistakes there and then. Keep this order on you at all times, and give copies to others, as it is enforceable from the moment it is signed and, should that person violate the order, you should contact law enforcement immediately and present them with a copy of the order.
Step 4: Serve the Respondent
Once you have filed the petition with the clerk of court, the respondent needs to be served the forms so that they can choose whether or not to request a hearing concerning the PPO. This process cannot be performed by the petitioner, and the clerk of the court can assist you in finding a process server to perform the duty or to understand how to submit it by the mail. To serve the respondent by mail, a person other than the petitioner must mail the papers through certified mail with a return receipt requested. This receipt must then be attached to a Proof of Service/Nonservice Form and filed with the clerk of court. If the service was performed in-person, then the process server will fill out the appropriate paperwork for the petitioner to submit. If the respondent would like to dispute the PPO, they may request a hearing within 14 days of service, at which point a hearing will be scheduled within 14 days of the time they request one.
Step 5: The Hearing
At the hearing, the petitioner will need to prove or convince the judge that the respondent is a danger to your health and safety, at which point they will also be allowed to share any evidence or opinions to the contrary. If the petitioner fails to show up for the hearing, the judge may take away an ex parte PPO and it may be harder to get another PPO in the future. Should the respondent not show, the judge may either reschedule the hearing or proceed an grant a full PPO to the petitioner. Should either party wish to bring a lawyer to represent them they are allowed to do so, and if more time is needed to find a lawyer they may ask the judge for a continuance, which would set a later date for the hearing.
Step 6: Judgement
If the judge rules in favor of the petitioner they will issue a personal protection order for any amount of time that they deem necessary. Should the judge rule in favor of the respondent, the petitioner may ask for another hearing, which the court will either grant within 21 days of the denial or deny altogether if the petitioner’s claims were deemed sufficiently without merit. An order to grant or deny a PPO may also be appealed through the Court of Appeals.