Originally Posted by thyra
...And yes, the standard is a preponderance of the evidence, which is much lower than for criminal liability - but there are REASONS for that! Proving beyond a reasonable doubt is very difficult, and domestic abuse can almost NEVER be proven beyond a reasonable doubt...
As I said, that problem with the P.O. system can't be feasibly corrected, because no one
wants to put women who need protective orders in the position of being unable to get them, without irrefutable proof. I certainly don't!
The only partial correction I can see is for women themselves to exercise the restraint of not requesting P.O.s, if blocking their ex's irritating calls largely solves the problem. If P.O.s are not so routine, they will be taken more seriously. And they are
routine. Courts throughout the U.S. are so crowded with P.O. requests that hearings are often just a few minutes long; in larger cities, special courts are dedicated for this purpose only and may have some type of appointed magistrate making rulings, rather than an actual judge; and the P.O. request forms are often rubber-stamped into Temporary Restraining Orders which may be in place for 6 weeks or longer, before there's time for the court to actually hear the arguments...even though the accusations made in P.O. requests are often of an emergency nature.
I stand by the idea that to equate petulant phone calls that can be blocked - and that do not include threats of violence or threats of any other type of criminal conduct; and which are not accompanied by stalking, violence, etc. - with abuse
that requires police protection
is to downplay and trivialize abuse.
factor in the failure of family courts to identify and protect children against abusive parents is
that a family court judge cannot reasonably assume
that just because a criminal court saw fit to grant the ex-wife a protective order, that the ex-husband has actually done anything to warrant limiting his access to their kids.
Lastly, I could nearly recite from memory the Protective Order Request forms in 3 states and have perused those in other states, out of curiosity. I have unfortunately had occasion to attend Protective Order court, in two states. I've worked in family law. I have a family full of attorneys. And I have only ever witnessed or heard of one
case where the court did not grant the 2-year protective order that was requested. (So you're right, it's not a Permanent order. But it's not a Temporary order, in the same sense as a Temporary Restraining Order, which is automatically nullified by a scheduled court hearing a month or two down the road.)
FTR, the one time I'm aware of a judge denying
a P.O. request, it was only because the requestor had been specifically ordered by another court not to request the P.O. in the first place, since all the provisions she requested violated custodial orders previously issued in another court. (I.e., it was a pretty blatant attempt to get one state's P.O. court to overrule another state's family court and the latter state had undeniable jurisdiction.) But under normal circumstances
, regardless whether the accusations in P.O. requests seemed questionable - regardless whether the accuser had obvious hostilities toward the accused, such as a custody dispute - and no matter what the accused said in his own defense - I've never heard of a P.O. request being refused. What percentage of the time do you
see that happen?
And you're right. Even on our state's form, the bulk of which consists of boxes to check, there is a 3-line space where you're asked to give specifics. But if you skipped the boxes about physical abuse, sexual abuse, threats of violence and other threats - because none of those things were done to you - and you only
check the box stating the accused made you fear for your safety, you are still entitled to request a protective order. And if the court will accept, for specifics, that a wrongly-placed stamp made one woman fear for her safety (and it did accept that
), how can the court tell other women that their
examples don't rise to the level of making them fear for their
safety? Again, it's up to the judge's discretion - and it differs by state - but I think it is, indeed, easy for a U.S. woman to get a P.O. against a U.S. man with whom she's been intimate.
I never said you, Thyra, should not have requested a P.O. I knew nothing about your case and certainly, women have to decide for themselves whether they need protection. This particular poster
was clear that she has suffered no violence, fear of violence, or stalking; that she has been able to block the unwanted calls from her ex; and that he did not react to that by redoubling his efforts to make unwanted contact in other ways - in fact, he pouted and now communicates with her even less
than she wants. And she asked what others thought of her trying to get a protective order.
Surely, "Go for it!" is not the only acceptable response! I asked her to consider what I've observed, which is that it doesn't seem beneficial to our society as a whole
, when people request protective orders based on the criteria she presented.
I also pointed out to her - as you did - that getting a P.O. would result in all her communication with her ex having to go through attorneys. Certainly, some people find that to be a relief. But at $100/hour or more, some people find that burdensome.
We certainly don't see eye-to-eye, Thyra, but I admire your idealism and conviction. I'm sure you'll make a terrific attorney!