Enforcing Protection Orders Across State Lines

June 27, 2024

Protection orders are crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals who face threats or harassment. However, a common concern arises when either the protected or the opposing party relocates to a different state. How can one be sure that a protection order obtained in one state, like Kansas, will be enforced in another, such as Colorado? This blog post aims to clarify this matter, leveraging insights from Attorney Timothy Dudley at Johnson Law Group.

Understanding the Legal Framework Welcome to Colorado sign with road in the background.

The key legal provision that ensures your protection order is recognized across state lines is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), established in 1994. VAWA creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Although the name might suggest it applies solely to women, VAWA protects all individuals, irrespective of gender. Central to VAWA is the doctrine of "full faith and credit," which means that states must honor protection orders issued by courts in other states. Suppose you have a Kansas protection order and move to Colorado. In that case, the Colorado authorities must enforce your Kansas court's order.

Steps to Ensure Your Protection Order is Enforced

Here are some essential steps to take to ensure your protection order is recognized and enforced when you move to a new state:

  1. Register Your Protection Order in the New State: Most states, including Colorado, maintain databases to track protection orders. This includes orders issued by courts in other states. Registering your protection order in your new state can help local law enforcement easily verify it and promptly enforce it.
  2. Keep a Certified Copy of Your Protection Order: Always have a certified copy of your protection order accessible, whether in your car, home, or personal belongings. To obtain a certified copy, you must follow specific procedures laid out by the court that issued the order. This might involve submitting a request form. Consulting with an attorney can simplify this process and ensure you have the necessary documentation.
  3. Familiarize Yourself with Local Law Enforcement: Upon moving to a new state, take the time to learn about local law enforcement agencies, including their locations and any particular procedures they have for enforcing protection orders. This proactive step can help you understand what to expect and ensure you can act swiftly if your protection order needs enforcement.

How to Register Your Protection Order

  1. Contact the New State's Court Clerk: Every state has a designated office for protection orders. Find the court clerk's contact information for your new state through their official website or a legal aid organization.
  2. Gather Necessary Documents: In addition to your certified copy, you may need other documents, such as a valid photo ID, proof of your new address, and possibly any documentation that verifies the opposing party has been served with the protection order. Also, it's helpful to have copies of any related court proceedings or police reports.
  3. Complete Registration Forms: The new state's court clerk will provide registration forms. Fill them out accurately and attach the certified copy of your protection order.
  4. Submit Your Registration: Follow the court clerk's instructions for submitting the completed forms and your certified copy. In some states, there may be a filing fee.
  5. Follow-Up for Confirmation: After submitting your documents, confirm with the court or agency that your protection order has been successfully registered. Keep a copy of any registration confirmation for your records.

Remember, registering your protection order strengthens its enforceability in your new state. If your order isn't registered, it may be more difficult for a law enforcement official to determine whether it's real. This means it could take longer to enforce your order.

Important Considerations

When dealing with protection orders, especially when moving across state lines, there are significant factors to keep in mind.

  • Order Variations: Protection orders can vary significantly regarding provisions and durations depending on the issuing state. Reviewing your protection order in detail is crucial to understand its specific terms and conditions. Some orders may include communication, proximity, or behavior restrictions, while others might have different enforcement timelines. Understanding these details will help ensure you know exactly what protections are in place and for how long. 
  • Consult with a Local Attorney: Laws and procedures can vary significantly from state to state. Consulting with a local attorney can provide valuable insights into any specific requirements or steps necessary to ensure your protection order is enforced in your new state. Attorneys at Johnson Law Group have experience with handling such cases. We can help you navigate this process smoothly.

Why Choose Johnson Law Group?

At Johnson Law Group, we understand that your safety is paramount. Our experienced family law attorneys are well-versed in the complexities of interstate protection order enforcement and are committed to providing personalized support to ensure your protection order is honored, no matter where you move. Here's why you should consider consulting us:

  • Personalized Legal Support: We offer customized consultations to fully understand your situation and provide tailored legal advice.
  • Commitment to Your Safety: Your safety and well-being are our top priorities. We work diligently to ensure your protection order is registered and enforced in your new state.

If you are facing the challenges of relocating with a protection order or need assistance with any family law matters, the Johnson Law Group is here to help. Contact us today at 720-445-4444 for a FREE consultation to discuss your case and explore how we can assist you in ensuring your protection order is enforced across state lines.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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