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What Qualifies as Abuse for Iowa Protective Orders?

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
December 4, 2019


In this article, we answer the question, “what qualifies as abuse for Iowa Protective Orders?”  We address the following:

  • What is a protective order?
  • What is abuse for the purpose of an Iowa protective order?
  • Who can get a protective order in Iowa?
  • Getting a protective order in Iowa - two different types
  • How fast does a protective order go into effect in Iowa?
  • What happens if someone violates a protective order in Iowa?

For some foundational information, check out our article: Iowa Restraining Orders Explained: How to Get a Protective Order or No Contact Order.

What is a protective order?

There are two parties covered under a protective order; the petitioner and the respondent. A protective order is a civil order that prohibits the respondent from:

  • Abusing, harassing, or disturbing the peace of the petitioner
  • Contacting the petitioner, directly or indirectly
  • Entering the petitioner’s property
  • Destroying the petitioner’s property

What is abuse for the purpose of an Iowa protective order?

There must be a proven history of abuse to obtain a protective order.  Abuse is a broad term that requires clarification when obtaining an Iowa protective order. Iowa law states that domestic abuse can be:

  • Physical contact that injures or is meant to injure
  • Threatening action with a weapon
  • Unwanted sexual activity
  • Threats of violence along with the ability to carry out the threat

Specific acts that could be classified as abuse include pushing, hitting, kicking, forcibly holding, and shaking. If a petitioner is threatened with a knife, gun, or other deadly weapon, they can claim abuse against the respondent. Verbal abuse is typically not considered domestic abuse under Iowa law when petitioning for a protective order. 

Who can get a protective order in Iowa?

To obtain a protective order in Iowa, the petitioner must have a particular relationship with the respondent. This could be a spouse, ex-spouse, people currently living together or who have lived together in the 12 months before an assault, persons having a child together, or those in an intimate relationship.

Getting a protective order in Iowa – two different types

There are two kinds of protective orders. Both are issued differently.

The first is a criminal no contact order. This is automatically issued if the police are called in a domestic abuse case lasts until the trial or a plea bargain is reached.

The second type of protective order is requested by a victim of domestic abuse rather than being automatically issued. A civil protective order is obtained by filing out a form at the clerk of court and providing evidence of abuse. This could include pictures of injuries or copies of threatening emails, texts, or voicemail transcripts.

Once the forms are complete, if a judge determines you qualify for a protection order, a hearing date will be set. If the judge believes you are in immediate danger, a temporary order of restraint will be issued until the hearing date.

At the hearing, both petitioner and respondent present their cases. A judge will either award a permanent protective order or dismiss the petition.

How fast does a protective order go into effect in Iowa?

Law enforcement will deliver a protective order to the respondent. As soon as it has been received, it is in effect.

What Remedies are Available for Iowa Protective Orders?

Courts have discretion to order a wide range of remedies for Iowa protective orders, including requiring the respondent to stay a specific distance away from the petitioner, awarding exclusive possession of a shared residence, requiring the respondent to change jobs or schools, and modifying child custody orders.  For more on this, check out our article: Remedies for Protective Orders in Iowa.  

What happens if someone violates a protective order in Iowa?

A respondent who violates a protective order will be held in contempt of court.


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