Sunday, March 4, 2012

Getting an Order for Protection (OFP) Without an Attorney

Not everything that goes on in the court room requires that an attorney be present.  Granted, when trying to acquire Order for Protection (OFP) - something you can do yourself - you may feel more comfortable with an experienced Minnesota OFP Attorney on your side, and you would likely benefit from the counsel and advice he could provide.  But I understand, attorneys are expensive, money is short, and you may need to save that money for the divorce you see coming.  As such, especially if you feel less than safe in your current situation, I would rather that you go into court without me than wait until you have the money to hire me and get hurt in the mean time.

What Do You Need to Do?

You can get fill-in-the-blank OFP forms from your local courthouse, or you can get them on-line from the Minnesota Court’s web site by clicking here.   OFP forms are specifically designed to be used by people who do not have an attorney.  The instructions are clear and fairly easy to follow.   And, you are not required to pay any sort of filing fee to get an OFP.

Once you complete the forms as directed, you bring them to court administration for filing.   Court administration will make sure a copy of your form called the “petition” is served on the abusing party by law enforcement.  Depending on the facts of your case, the judge may issue a temporary Order for Protection before any hearing was held.  If the judge issues such an Order it will usually remain in effect until a full hearing on your petition can occur.

What Happens at the Hearing?

In court, you'll be expected to testify and tell what happened.  During your testimony you need to be very specific about what your abuser did that hurt you, or made you fear that he/she would do so in the immediate future.  Your abuser will then be given an opportunity to cross examine you by asking you questions.  After you are done testifying, your abuser will then be able to testify about what happened, and you'll get to ask him/her questions.  If you have any witnesses to the event, bring them to the hearing so that they can testify as well.  Once the judge has heard all of the testimony, he/she will decide whether an Order for Protection will be issued.

What You'll Need to Understand

There are more rules that decide whether and when a hearing on your petition for an Order for Protection is held.  Which rules apply depend on the specific facts of your case.  However, the important message here is that you should not wait until you have enough money to hire an attorney before you ask the court for an Order for Protection.  There are forms and resources to get you through the process.  Of course, if at any point you feel overwhelmed by the process, or your abuser gets an attorney, it is always advisable to get an attorney of your own.

Need to Know More?

If you think you need a lawyer, you probably need a lawyer. Call the Rolloff Law Office today at (612) 234-1165 and schedule a no-cost, no obligation consultation.

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