By: James S. Margulis
If a disgruntled significant other files false charges of abuse against you and obtains a “temporary protection order” (TPO), taking immediate action is important in mitigating the effects that the TPO may cause to your life and possible divorce or child custody battle down the road.
First, it is important to note that protection orders are important to those who truly need them in legitimate circumstances. The protection and safety that TPOs can provide to a person in need who is truly being abused is very valuable. Accordingly, TPOs are issued by a judge on an emergency, “ex-parte” basis—meaning the person accused of abusing a party (the defendant) does not have the opportunity to explain their side of the story until their hearing date. Said hearing will occur within 14 days.
Unfortunately, TPOs are sometimes illegitimately filed by an upset spouse or partner – perhaps as a tool for evicting one party from the home and away from the children, seemingly providing the other party a leg-up in obtaining custody of the kids.
TPOs can also create a financial injury—from having to unexpectedly and quickly find new housing arrangements, to potentially incurring a required child and/or spousal support payment, to having to continue to pay expenses for the marital home. Even if a TPO is ultimately found to be meritless, TPOs issued may appear in background checks and continue to affect an individual down the road.
If a false allegation of abuse and a meritless TPO is filed against you, contact an attorney right away. Collecting evidence—such as texts, emails, voicemails, etc.—to help support your case during the hearing is also important. Finding witnesses who can help support your side of the story and who can testify as to your good character will also help. Remaining calm, rational and composed during your TPO hearing is also key. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on how to conduct yourself and will be a major help in preparing evidence and getting you ready for your hearing date, but maintaining good credibility and keeping your emotions toward your spouse in check is key to overcoming the baseless claims against you.
It is a shame that TPOs are misused as a weapon in divorce rather than as the essential tool they are meant to be in dangerous situations. However, it is crucial that you contact a Colorado attorney immediately if you find yourself in this situation to help you deal with these undue charges.
Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC for all of your Family Law needs. Set up a legal consultation when you call (888) 458-0991.