Domestic Violence : Difference Between Restraining Order and Civil Protection Order

What is the difference between a restraining order and a civil or criminal protection order (CPO)?

Both a restraining order and a civil or criminal protection order (CPO) may order an abuser not to abuse or harass a victim of domestic violence. However, in Ohio, these orders are very different legal tools.

A domestic relations court may issue a restraining order in a divorce or legal separation case to protect one spouse from the other, abusive spouse. The restraining order remains in effect and is enforceable as long as the divorce or legal separation case is pending. It expires upon the termination of the divorce or legal separation case. Enforcement is limited.

If the abusive spouse violates the restraining order, the protected spouse may file a motion for contempt against the violator in the same court which granted the restraining order. Police and other law enforcement officers do not enforce restraining orders. As a result, the burden of enforcement is upon the protected spouse and his or her attorney.

By contrast, law enforcement officers anywhere in the State of Ohio must enforce civil or criminal protection orders, preferably by arresting the violator under the State's preferred arrest policy set forth in R.C. 2935.03(B)(3) and 2935.032. Law enforcement officers must also respond promptly to any report of a violation of a protection order. In addition, a protection order - especially a civil protection order - may contain additional provisions such as evicting the abuser from the parties' home, awarding temporary child custody or temporary support to the domestic violence victim, or ordering both parties to obtain counseling.

Can I file a civil or criminal protection order even if I am not married to my partner/abuser?

Yes. A protection order may be granted for the protection of an unmarried intimate partner - not just a husband or wife - or relatives of the abuser or the abuser's partner, if the abuser and the person seeking protection are living together or have lived together at any time in the past.

Which should I use, a civil or criminal protection order or a restraining order?

Usually, victims of domestic violence are better off obtaining a protection order rather than a restraining order. The protection order provides greater relief and is much easier to enforce. On the other hand, a victim of domestic violence may seek and obtain both a restraining order and a criminal or civil protection order. Obtaining one type of order does not prevent another court from issuing the other type of order. See Felton v. Felton (1997), 79 Ohio St.3d 34.

For more information on domestic violence visit the Ohio Domestic Violence Resource Center.

See also the Forms & Education tab in this section for more information.


The information in this site is not intended as legal advice.
Back to Top of Page | Didn't find it? Use Advanced Search | Back to Step 1

Click here to find legal help near you.

To find a civil legal aid provider, call

1.866.LAW.OHIO (1.866.529.6446)

For the hearing impaired:
Use this site to find the local
Ohio legal aid provider in your
area. Then, call the Ohio Relay
Service at 1-800-750-0750 and
ask the service operator to
connect you to the provider
you are trying to call.

The information in this site is
not intended as legal advice.


Personal tools