Orders of Protection, Restraining Orders or RO’s as they are often referred to; were created to keep people, their loved ones and financial assets safe from a second party. Most often used in domestic abuse/violence cases, Orders of Protection usually restrict one person from contacting the other whether directly (in person) or indirectly (through a third party, via text message/instant messenger).
Used properly, Orders of Protection work. When used inappropriately orders of protection hamper the legal system, innocent lives, and often cause financial havoc.
The Court Systems are seeing more and more Orders of Protection used inappropriately, in fact in American Society it is becoming an epidemic. Usually there are three main reasons why this is done:
To gain custody of the children
In divorce cases, or due to the breakdown of a common law relationship Orders of Protection are often sought after by the parent who is either the primary care giver, or the parent who wishes to obtain sole custody of any and all minor children. If there has been genuine documented emotional, verbal, physical or even sexual abuse, issuing an Order is justified.
More and more however; one parent will ‘imply’ that such abuse has occurred and wanting to err on the side of caution a Judge will issue at least a temporary Order of Protection.
The problem with granting such an order where no abuse has taken place can have devastating effects on all parties involved. While the parent or Guardian who fibbed may indeed be sussed out, what usually occurs is a Court related game of he said, she said.
The Court system gets clogged up, children are separated from a parent/guardian who is usually genuinely loving causing them severe emotional upset and potential long term mental health issues.
The parent who is the recipient of the inappropriate Order of Protection usually doesn’t fare much better; they may become enraged at being falsely labelled and break the Order causing further legal battles, or become depressed and spiral downwards into addiction and unemployment.
To gain a quick get away
We live in a quick fix society, and marriage is not faring very well. When a relationship ends one party may come to believe that if they quickly make accusations and get an Order of Protection issued they will speed up the divorce or end of a civil union relationship.
This is distorted thinking for two reasons; a Judge is more likely to pry into a couple’s background to get the real truth of the situation; lawyers fight harder for both sides causing additional legal costs, and the battle is likely to take much longer, than an honest separation.
To gain a financial advantage
Let’s face it, money talks. When a relationship disintegrates both parties are quick to point out which asset belongs to who. If a union has ended badly one or both parties often feels entitled to more than their fair share of assets accrued over the duration of a Union.
While Courts, Lawyers, and Court Appointed Mediators do just fine at sorting out what belongs to who, couples often take a more underhanded approach and seek to hide their assets by either draining joint bank accounts; moving money out of the Country or selling real joint property without the consent of the other party.
While Judges do issue Orders of Protection to stop either or both parties from liquidating assets, an Order of Protection may be inappropriately used if it is issued so that the other party can do just that, and the innocent party is left in financial distress or ruin.
The issue of inappropriately issuing Orders of Protection is not a new one; nor is this issue likely to go away in a hurry. That said legal writers and bloggers are quickly making this one of the most talked about legal issues of the day, and the Court System is beginning to take notice.
Using Orders of Protection inappropriately to gain a Custody, Divorce, or Financial advantage is never wise, results in further mud raking and legal delays and costs. And in the end the truth almost always comes out.