If your spouse knowingly physically harms or attempts to physically harm you (or your children), such that you fear for your safety, you are a victim of domestic violence (DV). You may choose to take action to prevent future violence or threatened violence.

One option involves calling the police. If the police determine you are the victim are DV, your spouse will be arrested and a court will most likely order your spouse to stay away from you until the case is decided. If your spouse is convicted of DV, the court may continue the stay away order, often at your request.

You can also petition your county domestic relations court for a civil protection order (CPO) against your spouse. The court will determine if your allegations meet the criteria for a hearing on your petition. A temporary protection order is issued if the criteria are met, and your spouse will be ordered to stay away from the parties listed to be protected (you, you and your children, etc.). The temporary order becomes effective once your spouse is served with the order. Violation of the order after your spouse is served is a criminal offense.

The domestic relations court will schedule a hearing where both you and your spouse will be able to present evidence regarding the validity of your petition. Should the court be satisfied the parties listed to be protected need a CPO, such an order will be issued, for up to five years.

Criminal stay away orders and CPOs may be grounds for the protected spouse to be entitled to exclusive possession of the marital residence, until the residence is sold or otherwise disposed of during a divorce. There are multiple other grounds for exclusive possession of the marital residence to be granted and it is best for you and your attorney to decide if such grounds exist and whether you want exclusive possession of the marital home.

A spouse’s domestic violence history will be considered in custody and visitation deliberations. Supervised or unsupervised visitation may be at issue.

Victims of DV may qualify for a legal aid attorney to be appointed to represent them during both CPO and divorce proceedings. The standard will not rest with how much money your spouse earns.

When your spouse is prosecuted for DV, the matter becomes a public record. CPO filings appear on clerk of courts websites.

When the police are summoned for a domestic violence call, someone is normally arrested. Sometimes the caller or both spouses are arrested. The police do not act as referees in a domestic dispute. Their role rests with enforcement of the law.

In Ohio, someone convicted of an offense of DV (§ 2919.25), when the offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree (M-1), cannot have the record of the conviction expunged. A subsequent DV charge, after someone is convicted of an M-1 DV, will be enhanced to a felony due to the prior conviction.

This guide is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered as, and does not constitute, legal advice. The guide presumes you are not currently represented by an attorney who knows your specific circumstances. The guide is specific to Ohio.