Victims of domestic violence have hope.  It is often a scary process and it is difficult to know where to start.  While the court system cannot fix all of your problems, it can help.  There are two primary types of orders the court can award in North Dakota to help you feel safe from your abuser: a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO), and a Disorderly Conduct Restraining Order (DCRO).  The process for both is similar but the requirements to secure one differ, as does the relief provided.

With both a DVPO and a DCRO, you must first prepare an application or petition requesting certain relief.  The application must be accompanied by your statement outlining the facts that support your requested relief.  The court reviews your application and if the facts support the relief requested, the court will issue a temporary order and a hearing will be scheduled within 14 days to allow the responding party to respond to the application.  At the hearing, both parties are provided an opportunity to present evidence and cross examine witnesses.  If the court is satisfied the evidence supports the requested relief, a permanent order will be granted.  If the evidence is not sufficient to support the application, the matter is denied and the temporary order ends.

In order to obtain a Domestic Violence Protection Order, the applicant must establish the other party is a family or household member as defined by statute.  More importantly, the applicant must demonstrate actual or imminent domestic violence which includes physical harm, bodily injury, sexual activity compelled by physical force, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, sexual activity compelled by physical force, or assault, not committed in self-defense.  If granted, the court, in addition to prohibiting contact between the parties, can set custody/parenting time schedules, award financial support, grant temporary use and possession of property, order parties into counseling or treatment, and order the surrender of firearms.

In contrast, a Disorderly Conduct Restraining Order requires the applicant to show the other individual was engaged in disorderly conduct which means intrusive or unwanted acts, words, or gestures that are intended to adversely affect the safety, security, or privacy of another person.  The relief is limited to ordering the responding party to cease or avoid the disorderly conduct or to have no contact with the applicant.

These processes can provide some comfort during a difficult time.  There are unique aspects to both processes that should be explored before filing your application with the court.  While a party can certainly pursue an action on their own, the assistance of an experienced attorney is highly recommended to secure the safety and protection you need.