Here are some facts and information for answering common questions and to clarify Protection Orders in Lincoln County.
Protection Order Q&A
What Does Montana Law Say About Domestic Abuse?
It is against the law for a partner or family member to:
- Cause you bodily harm, or
- Cause you to fear bodily harm
If you are being hurt or threatened with harm, your partner is breaking the law!
If you are being abused, you can:
- Report the abuse to the police
- Apply for an order of protection
- Get help and support from someone you trust and/or
- Call a crisis hotline, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
- For Sexual Assault call RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) 24/7 at 800-656-HOPE (4673)
What is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a court order. It’s signed by a judge and says the person who has hurt you or threatened you cannot do that again. It can keep that person from having contact with you. An Order of Protection is valid throughout the United States. Just because it was issued in Montana, does not mean that it isn’t good in other states.
Can I Get an Order of Protection?
You can ask for an Order of Protection if the person abusing you or threating you is a family member, intimate partner or former intimate partner. You can also ask for an Order of Protection if someone is stalking you, or has physically or sexually assaulted you, whether or not you have had an intimate relationship with that person. You will be asked to write about the abusive treatment you suffered. Provide as many details as you can. Include the dates of any instances of abuse. If the abuse affected your children, write that down too. If there is a current case in any of the local courts regarding the abuse, make sure to write that down as well.
How to Obtain a Protection Order
Protection orders if there is no family law case pending:
Protection orders can be obtained from the Libby Justice Court located at 418 Mineral Avenue in Libby. Eureka residents may go to the Annex building and procure the forms and fax them to the Justice Court in Libby. The protection orders that are faxed from the Eureka Annex will not be issued until the Libby Justice Court received the original notarized and signed Protection Order Form in Libby. Hours for obtaining the Protection Orders in Libby are Monday through Thursday from 9am until 3pm. The Libby Justice Court has forms available in their office and can only answer basic questions about the forms. They cannot assist you in what to write and how to word an answer to the questions.
Protection Order if you and the other party have a family law case:
Protection orders that involve children must be done through the District Court. It is also recommended that if you are in the process of obtaining a divorce you utilize the District Court Order of Protection as well.
Clerk of the District Court Temporary Order of Protection Package
Explanation of a Protection Order and Terms
- The person requesting the protection order is a petitioner
- The person whom the protection order is against is the respondent
- An order restraining your abuser from contacting or threating you
- An order directing your abuser to leave your household
- An order preventing your abuser from transferring any property, except in the usual course of business
- An order awarding you or the other parent custody of, or visitation with, a minor child or children
- An order restraining your abuser from interfering with minor children in your custody other than conditions of court-ordered visitation
- An order directing the non-custodial parent to pay support of minor children or support of the other party in there is a legal obligation to do so
- Prohibiting the offender from threatening to hurt you or hurting you
- Directing the offender to leave your home
- Prohibiting the offender from having any contact with you
- Prohibiting the offender from being within 1,500 feet (or other appropriate distance) of you and any named family member, and from being at your work site or any other specified place
- Giving you possession of necessary personal property
- Prohibiting the offender from possessing or using any firearm used in the assault
“Family member” means mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, and other past or present family members of a household. These relationships include relationships created by adoption and remarriage, including stepchildren, stepparents, in-laws, and adoptive children and parents. These relationships continue regardless of the ages of the parties and whether the parties reside in the same household
“Partners” means spouses, former spouses, persons who have a child in common, and persons who have been or are currently in a dating or ongoing intimate relationship with a person of the opposite sex
The Hearing Process for Order of Protection
The hearing date can be found on page 3 of the Temporary Order of Protection (TOP). It is your responsibility to seek any assistance or legal representation. The purpose of the hearing is to determine if the TOP will be extended beyond 20 days.
Most of the time, the Petitioner (you) and the Respondent will both have the opportunity to testify at the hearing.
If the Petitioner does not attend the hearing, the Judge will immediately dismiss the TOP. If the respondent does not attend the hearing, but the Petitioner is present, the Judge will decide whether or not to extend the order based on the information provided by the Petitioner.
On the day of the hearing:
- Be on time, dress neatly, speak directly to the Judge and address him/her as “Your Honor”.
- Always tell the truth. If you do not know an answer, say you don’t know
- If you don’t understand a question, ask the Judge for clarification
- Do not interrupt the Judge or the Respondent.
Order of events in the courtroom:
- You, the Petitioner, will share your side of the story first, including relevant evidence.
- You may use notes, but do not read directly from them. Tell your story, in your own words.
- Tell the Judge specifically why you want the order of protection to stay.
- The Judge and Respondent may ask you questions.
- If you have any witnesses you may call them once you are done giving your own testimony.
- Once you are done presenting information, the Respondent will have the chance to share his/her side of the story.
- The Respondent will follow the same format as you did.
- The Judge makes a decision.
- If granted your Protection Order, it is important that you carry a copy of the Order at all times
- Report all violations to law enforcement (not the court).
Montana Hope Cards are available to anyone with a Permanent Order of Protection. You can apply for your HOPE Card through the Department of Justice Website or at the Crime Victim Advocate Office.