Minnesota has enacted very significant laws and procedures in an effort to both help prevent domestic violence and protect victims or potential victims from any further acts of domestic violence.
Minnesota’s Domestic Abuse Act (see Minn. Stat. Sec. 518B), defines “domestic abuse” as:
- Physical harm, bodily injury or assault;
- The infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault;
- Terroristic threats;
- Interference with a 911 call; or
- Criminal sexual misconduct.
To qualify as “domestic” abuse, the acts must have been committed against a family, or household, member. The Act defines a “family or household member” as:
- Former spouses;
- Persons related by blood;
- Persons residing together;
- Persons who have resided together in the past;
- Persons who have a child in common;
- Persons expecting a child together; or
- Persons involved in a romantic, or sexual, relationship.
ORDERS FOR PROTECTION
If an individual has committed an act of domestic abuse upon another, the abused party can seek relief under the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act in the form of an Order for Protection (or “OFP”).
HOW TO GET AN ORDER FOR PROTECTION (OFP)
Every court administrator in every county in Minnesota maintains an office where victims of domestic abuse are able to file a petition seeking an Order for Protection. It is the only legal proceeding where court staff will actually assist a person in filling our their legal paperwork. Also, the filing fee required to file the proceeding is frequently waived. Further, there are statewide advocacy agencies which will assist victims of abuse by providing them with guidance and an “advocate” who will even attend the hearing on behalf of a victim of abuse.
Relief available to victims of domestic abuse includes:
- Restraining the other party from committing further acts of domestic abuse;
- Preventing the abusing party from being present at the victim’s residence or place of employment (or a reasonable area surrounding their home or workplace);
- An award of temporary physical or legal custody of the minor children, or pets, of the parties;
- An award of temporary child support or, if married, spousal maintenance;
- Temporary possession of the residence of the parties;
- An order that the abusing party participate in counseling or other therapy designed to address anger, parenting, or domestic abuse issues.
Under the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act, the Court can enter an Order for Protection that is valid for up to two years. An OFP can be reviewed and extended, if the Court deems appropriate.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-866-223-1111, or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You should be aware that some abusers may monitor your use of your computer and the internet. With this in mind, you may want to see the list of Minnesota Services that are available, but you may wish to do so from a safe computer at http://www.mcbw.org/mnservices.