Domestic violence and harassment are crimes, and you have the legal right to protect yourself and your children from contact with the abuser whether they are family, friend, or stranger. The State of Oregon offers three distinct forms of restraining orders for which you can apply depending on your case details. If you are in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation and you fear for your safety, you might be eligible for one or more of these restraining orders.
In this first blog in a three-part series we’ll explain the details of the Family Abuse Prevention Act (FAPA) Restraining Order. This is not intended as legal advice and if you are in danger you should get yourself to safety and then consult a family law attorney about the legal protections available to you and the steps you should take to utilize them.
FAPA Restraining Orders
The Family Abuse Prevention Act is designed to protect you and/or your children from an abusive family member or someone with whom you’ve have an intimate relationship like a boyfriend or girlfriend. If your abuser falls under either of the aforementioned categories (family or intimate partner), a FAPA restraining order can legally limit or prevent your contact with that person for up to a year and can be renewed each year if you continue to fear for your safety.
This type of restraining order can prohibit the abuser from coming within 150 feet of you, sending you mail, or contacting you via telephone. It can prevent them from owning firearms, force them to move out of your shared dwelling, and keep them from going to certain locations like your work or your kids’ school. If children are involved, the FAPA restraining order can also mandate the abuser be supervised when he visits with the kids or force the abuser to pick up and drop off the kids for visitation at the police station if the other parent has been the target of the abuse. Keep in mind, a FAPA restraining order does not nullify a previously existing child custody agreement
In order to be granted a FAPA restraining order, one of the following criteria must have occurred within the last 180 days:
- abuser caused you physical injury
- abuser attempted to cause you physical injury
- abuser placed you in fear of immediate physical injury
- abuser forced you into sexual relations by use of force or threat of force
As the accuser you will be required to present evidence of the above actions. This can include witnesses, photographs, recordings, as well as letters or emails.
Under some circumstances a minor (17 or younger) can be granted a FAPA restraining order against an adult, but only if they are or were previously married to the abuser, or they have had a sexually intimate relationship (forced or not) with the abuser.
Once granted, a FAPA restraining order will be valid everywhere, even in other states, and victims should carry it on their person at all times. However, always bear in mind that restraining orders are simply pieces of paper. Though they have legal power, you should always go to the police if there is an imminent threat to your safety.
If you believe you need and qualify for a FAPA restraining order, or any other restraining order protection, be sure to give Pacific Cascade Family Law a call as soon as possible to discuss your options and steps to take. Be sure to read or upcoming blogs on the Stalking Protective Order and the Elder/Disabled Abuse Prevention Act Restraining Order.