TPO/Temporary Protection Order as followed by a CPO/Civil Protection Order is an effective and powerful legal petition that can significantly and directly impact a myriad of family law topics such as:

  1.  Stay away order, no contact, etc.
  2.  Temporary child support
  3.  Temporary child custody
  4.  Alimony or temporary spousal support
  5.  Marital property or jointly owned/leased property and possession thereof
  6. Mental health or anger management counseling or treatment
  7. Legal fees
  8. Relinquish firearm


Procedurally, a TPO petition and the accompanying 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.

The initial hearing is generally ex parte and almost always the petition is granted as long as sufficient facts are alleged in the affidavit in support of the petition.

A Civil Protection hearing is by statute scheduled within 14 days of the issuance of the TPO order.  In that period, the respondent has to be served in person and usually by MPD directing appearance at the CPO hearing.

The court may when necessary extend a temporary protection for an additional 14 day increments, or even for longer increments with the consent of the parties and as long as necessary to complete a hearing on the petition filed.

The TPO will remain in effect until service has been completed and a CPO order has been entered replacing the TPO order.


If at the CPO hearing the judicial officer determines good cause has been shown 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 any number of specific orders as specified above.

Moreover, if the Judicial Officer finds by the preponderance of evidence that an intrafamily offense has been committed, visitation and custody determination would be granted only if the safety of the child/children and the custodial parent is adequately protected, and such must be articulated in writing.

Consequently, the party found to have committed an intrafamily offense has the burden of proving that visitation will not endanger the child or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.

At the CPO hearing, one spouse is deemed “competent and compellable” witness against the other and may testify as to confidential communications.  However testimony compelled and admissible over a claim of a privilege here is not inadmissible in the ensuing criminal trial over the objection of a spouse asserting marital privilege.

Thus the CPO statute does carve out an exception to the material privilege.

The CPO hearings are also 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 the ensuing proceedings would be directly affected by the CPO findings and the ruling.  The family court judges who would handle the ensuing hearings on issuing permanent orders will closely mirror or consider the CPO order.

The CPO order is in effect for one year unless renewed.  More importantly violation of the CPO order is punishable either by the contempt power of the court or charged as a misdemeanor criminal offense punishable by maximum of 180 days in jail.


At the CPO trial, if agreeable to the petitioner one may enter into a consent order without admission.  That is, agreeing to the stay away terms and other clauses proposed by the petitioner or the court liaison attorney.  The consent would be without admission and thus there is no adverse finding in the matter.  The

Alternatively, one may negotiate with the petitioner dismissal of the action in lieu of a civil agreement and contract drafted outside the purview of the court.  This would be an ideal outcome as violations thereof would not be considered a criminal offense.

If there is also a legal basis, criss-cross petitions are recommended.  That is the respondent filing a counter petition if there is cause as these matters generally involve culpability on both side.  This creates a leverage for joint dismissal again if appropriate and warranted.

The best path to approach the Civil Protection petitions however is to be prepared to litigate the facts and to get a favorable ruling from the court as often petitioners are unwilling to negotiate.

Thus it is absolutely critical to have an effective, zealous and fast thinking representation at the CPO hearing as the ruling in the CPO hearing would have a far reaching consequences on all other ensuing intra-family proceedings and a potentially a protective order that remains in effect for 12 months.


Contact our Washington DC CPO Lawyer today for thorough case evaluation and analysis.