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What is Domestic Abuse and How Do I Obtain a Civil Protective Order Under Iowa Law?

Updated on
November 10, 2020
Article written by
Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article we will discuss what constitutes Domestic Abuse under Iowa law and how to obtain a civil protective order to protect a victim from their abuser. This article will address and answer the following questions: 

 

  • What is Domestic Abuse under Iowa Law? 
  • What Relationships qualify under the Domestic Abuse statute? 
  • What constitutes an “assault” under Iowa law for Domestic Abuse? 
  • What is a Civil Protective Order and how does it help a domestic abuse victim? 
  • How do I obtain a Civil Protective Order? 
  • What happens at my Civil Protective Order hearing? 
  • When does the Civil Protective Order take effect and how long does it last? 


What is Domestic Abuse under Iowa law? 

In Iowa, domestic abuse is an assault between people who are in one of a number of types of relationship.  

 

What Relationships qualify under the Domestic Abuse statute? 

Under Iowa law, there are four main relationships that qualify under the domestic abuse statute. These relationships are married, divorced, have children together, and living together or have lived together within 1 year prior to the assault taking place. If you do not fit within these categories, establishing an intimate relationship by showing romantic involvement (which does not have to include sexual engagement) could also qualify as a relationship under Iowa law.  

 

What constitutes an “assault” under Iowa law for Domestic Abuse? 

Most assaults take the form of physical harm. Pushing, hitting, kicking, holding or shaking. However, an assault can also be in the form of unwanted sexual activity, threatening you with a weapon, physical contact that could or is meant to harm you, or threats of harm with the ability to carry out the threats.  

Most of the time, verbal abuse alone will not be considered an assault under Iowa’s domestic abuse laws. The statements have to threaten harm, and have with them proof of the ability to be carried out for them to qualify under Iowa law as an assault.

  

What is a Civil Protective Order and how does it help a domestic abuse victim? 

Civil protective orders are used to both stop the abuser from continue acts of domestic violence and prohibit the abuser from having any contact with the victim. These orders are issued by a judge and if the abuser violates the order, they are subject to arrest and prosecution. 

 

How do I obtain a Civil Protective Order? 

A domestic abuse victim can obtain a civil protective order by filing a case with the court. These actions do not require police to be involved in the matter, nor do they require any charges to be brought against the abuser.  

Once filed, the judge will review the documents and evidence submitted. If the judge believes the victim needs immediate protection, a temporary protective order may be issued. This order will last until there is a court hearing on the case. A court hearing will be scheduled within approximately 2 weeks after documentation is submitted to the court.  

 

What happens at my Civil Protective Order hearing? 

At your hearing, you will testify under oath about your abuse. You will identify what has happened and explain why a protective order is necessary for your safety. If you have witnesses to the abuse, they may also be asked to testify on the case. The abuser may be asked to testify in the case, though it is not always necessary. Finally, additional evidence such as photographs, medical records, or police records may be submitted to be considered by the judge.  

The judge will listen to the testimony and review all the evidence submitted in the matter. They will then decide whether domestic abuse occurred and whether a protective order is necessary. If the judge does decide to issue a protective order, copies will be issued to the victim, abuser, and police for enforcement.  

 

When does the Civil Protective Order take effect and how long does it last? 

Once a copy of the order is delivered to the abuser by the Sheriff, the order takes effect. This is often done at the court house immediately following the ruling by the judge.  

The civil protective order typically lasts for 1 year after it is issues. The exact period the order lasts will be stated on the order issued by the judge. These orders may be cancelled by a judge prior to the expiration date through a request by either party in the case.  

During this period, the abuser is barred from contacting the victim and must stay away from them. Should the abuser violate this order, they can face arrest as well as jail time.  


What is Domestic Abuse and How Do I Obtain a Civil Protective Order Under Iowa Law?
Author

Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

Kevin O’Flaherty is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He has experience in litigation, estate planning, bankruptcy, real estate, and comprehensive business representation.

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