There are several types of domestic restraining orders in Colorado that emanate from different courts and serve different functions. Restraining orders in divorce cases can be an effective if not crucial part of separation.
First, there is the temporary civil restraining order or “TRO”. Any municipal court of record can issue a TRO, however they are typically obtained in county court. Under Colorado law, a TRO can be issued for any of the following reasons:
- To prevent assaults and threatened bodily harm;
- To prevent domestic abuse;
- To prevent emotional abuse of the elderly and;
- To prevent stalking.
It’s quite simple to get a TRO and you do not necessarily need a lawyer. If you feel that your safety or your children’s safety is in danger because of the acts or threats of another, a TRO may be appropriate. First, call the county court in your county and find out when the court issues TRO’s (most courts issue them daily). You will need to go to the county clerk’s office at the appointed time and fill out a form known as a “complaint”, which details why you are seeking a TRO. After you fill out the complaint, you will be directed to a courtroom where a judge will review the complaint and hear your story.
If a judge issues a TRO, it is important to remember that the order is not enforceable until a sheriff or process server personally gives it to the defendant (this is also known as “service”). Keep a copy of the TRO with you at all times and if the defendant violates the TRO, call the police immediately.
On the TRO, there will be a date and time listed for a permanent restraining order or “PRO” hearing. At the PRO hearing, the defendant will have an opportunity to tell the court why he or she believes the restraining order should not be made permanent. You must attend the PRO hearing or else the initial restraining order will no longer be in effect. If you cannot attend the hearing date, call the county clerk’s office and see if the hearing can be rescheduled.
For more information about obtaining and enforcing civil restraining orders, visit the Colorado Court’s self help page located on their website at: www.courts.state.co.us
Another type of restraining order is known as an emergency protection order or “EPO.” An EPO is a temporary substitute for a TRO and is issued by a judge by telephone when the courts are closed for regular business. Unlike the TRO, a police officer and not the threatened party summons the court for an EPO. A judge will issue an EPO if a police officer asserts “reasonable grounds to believe that an adult is in immediate and present danger of domestic abuse, based on an actual incident or threat.”
EPOs last approximately three days and they serve to protect a party until they can file a complaint for a TRO during regular court hours. A court will only continue an EPO if a party has filed for a TRO and the court is unable to hold a hearing at that time.
A final type of restraining order is known as an automatic temporary injunction. An automatic injunction goes into immediate effect when a person files for divorce (also known as the “Petition for Dissolution”) and personally serves the petition on his or her spouse. The Colorado Revised Statutes spell out the exact language that must be in the petition and accompanying summons. Basically, the injunction restrains both parties from:
- a. Transferring, concealing or in any way disposing of marital property without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life;
- b. Molesting or disturbing the peace of the other;
- c. Removing the minor child(ren) from the state without the consent of the other party or order of the court and;
- d. Canceling, modifying or allowing to lapse for non-payment any type of insurance that covers the parties and/or their children.
An automatic temporary injunction is enforceable by the district court and overrides any other type of restraining order previously in effect.