Restraining Orders and No Contact Orders
Applications may be obtained from the Clerk of Court in Room 115 of the Polk County Courthouse, 5th and Mulberry in Des Moines.
If you have questions regarding the qualifications in obtaining the order you may call the Civil Court Advocate of the Family Violence Center at (515) 243-6147.
There are three ways to keep someone away:
A victim can ask the court for relief from domestic abuse with or without an attorney. Each clerk of court office in Iowa has forms available for victims to fill out. The people involved must have a relationship where at least one of the following applies:
- Family or household members living together at the time of the assault;
- Married persons, including juveniles who are married;
- Seperated spouses or persons divorced from each other, including juveniles who are or were married;
- Juveniles and adult biological parents of the same minor child regardless of whether they have ever lived together;
- Unmarried persons who are co-habitating - co-habitation does not require a sexual relationship but does require something more that merely living together; or
- Persons who have lived together within the past year but were not living together at the time of the assault.
Please note that if the victim and abuser have never married, they must either have a child together, or they have to live together at the time of the assault, or have lived together within the past year. When persons under 18 years of age are seeking protection, they may have to have a parent or gaurdian file on their behalf. The clerk of court has forms for this situation.
Orders granted under Chapter 236 are meant to be protective. As a result, if an abuser ignores the order, the abuser can be arrested immediately. Parties to a protective order should read and understand the terms of the order. Only the judge can change the terms of the order so if the petitioner no longer wants the order, s/he must ask the court to change or stop the order. Orders from a judge can last up to one year and be extended for one year only if the petitioner asks for the extension. Finally, a protective order should protect a petitioner anywhere s/he goes in the United States.
A restraining order is a CIVIL matter, and is handled by either the requesting party or his/her attorney. The County Attorney's Office does not handle or involve itself in restraining orders as we have no standing. A party may speak to a private attorney (many do not charge for an initial consultation) for advice on how to obtain such an order. Questions a person seeking a restraining order may wish to ask include:
- How much does it cost?
- How long does it take to obtain an order?
- Once obtained, how is it enforced?
What happens after someone is arrested for domestic abuse?
Within 24 hours after a person is arrested for domestic abuse, assault or harassment, he or she will be brought before a judge or magistrate. At that time, the defendant will be provided notice of the next court appearance and generally served a criminal no contact order preventing ANY contact with the victim(s). The No Contact Order remains in effect until it is lifted, modified or the case is disposed of by the court. The clerk of court will send a copy of the no contact order to the protected party. It will be sent to the address the protected party provided to law enforcement when the incident took place.
What does a no contact order mean?
If the defendant is served with a No Contact Order, he or she must avoid all contact with the victim(s). This means the defendant may not communicate with the victim in person, phone, mail, and social media or through a 3rd party. Any contact with the defendant is considered a violation of the No Contact Order. If you, the victim, were to contact the defendant, through any of the means mentioned, while the No Contact Order is in place, you would be violating the Order and may be held in contempt of court.
If the defendant was living with the victim, he or she must move out of the residence. The defendant cannot come within the immediate vicinity of the victim’s protected address or place of employment. Unless modified by the Court, the defendant may only enter the residence in the company of a peace officer to retrieve clothing and work-related items. This is the responsibility of the defendant and his attorney to arrange this.
If the defendant sees the victim in a public place, it is the defendant’s responsibility to avoid contact. Every effort should be made by the victim to avoid contact with the defendant. If the defendant does not comply with the No Contact Order, the defendant could be arrested and a hearing set to determine if he or she is in contempt of court. Contact law enforcement with ANY possible violations of the No Contact Order.