Generally a TPO petition/affidavit is filed under oath attesting that the safety and welfare of the petitioner/affiant and/or a household member is imminently endangered by the respondent’s conduct and thus an immediate relief in form of a court order is needed to protect the petitioner and other listed members of the family. The initial hearing is generally ex parte and almost always the petition is granted as long as sufficient facts are alleged. Within 14 days of the issuance of the TPO order, the court will set the matter for a CPO hearing and the respondent would be served with the TPO order directing appearance at the CPO hearing. The TPO will remain in effect until service has been completed and a CPO order has been entered.
At the CPO hearing, the marital privilege does not apply and one spouse may be compelled to testify against the other on confidential inter marital communications. However the compelled testimony is inadmissible in the ensuing criminal case.
If at the CPO hearing the judicial officer determines that the respondent “has committed or threatened to commit a criminal offense against the petitioner” then issuance of a protection order is warranted directing the respondent: to refrain from such conduct, to stay away from the petitioner, to have no contact with the petitioner, to participate in counseling or an appropriate treatment, to refrain from entering or to vacate the marital property or the jointly owned/leased/rented property occupied by both parties (or leased/rented/owned by the petitioner or jointly by an individual other than the respondent), to relinquish possession of certain property jointly owned or by the petitioner only. The court can and may award temporary custody/visitation of the children in common, award spousal support, award costs and attorney fees, and direct relinquishment of firearm, inter alia.
If the judicial officer finds by the preponderance of evidence that an interfamily offense has been committed, visitation and custody determination would be granted only if the safely of the child/children and the custodial parent is adequately protected, and such must be articulated in writing.
The CPO order is in effect for one year unless renewed. Violation of the CPO order is punishable either by the contempt power of the court or charged as a misdemeanor both punishable by 180days in jail/$1000.00 fine or both.
The CPO hearings are an important phase in an ensuing child custody/child support and divorce actions. In generally one quick hearing with minimal evidence introduced, and in one brush, the court has the power to enter an order addressing separation, use of marital property, child support, child custody and even award of fees and alimony. All of the ensuing proceedings would be affected by the CPO findings and the ruling.
Thus in an intrafamily matters, and at the CPO hearing, it is absolutely critical to have an effective zealous advocate as ruling in the CPO hearing would have a far reaching effect on all other ensuing intrafamily proceedings.
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