A child protection order is a type of court order issued by a judge to protect a child from instances of child abuse or from exposure to domestic violence. It is usually directed toward a parent of the child who had previously abused the child, the child’s siblings, or the child’s other parent.

A main function of child protective orders is to prevent the abusive parent from coming within a certain radius of the child (for example, the abuser must stay at least 100 feet away from the child). Child protection orders can also cover a very wide range of conduct and requirements. They are sometimes called CPO’s, child protective orders, or orders of protection.

What Is Included in a Child Protection Order?

Each child protection order will be issued according to the facts of surrounding each case. Also, state laws may vary regarding the process for obtaining a child custody order. In general, some of the subject matter covered by a child protection order may include:

  • Contact: The abusive parent may be required to stay a certain distance from the child. They may also be prohibited from visiting the child at home or at school. Some judges may also prohibit the offender from communicating with the child through phone, e-mail, or computer.  Stalking or harassment is also prohibited.  
  • Visitation: Visitation rights may be limited very strictly or even denied through a protection order.
  • Property/Documents: The child protection order will often require the offender to surrender any property belonging to the child, as well as any important documents needed for day-to-day living (such birth certificates, medical cards, passports, etc.)
  • Payment of Costs:  If the instance of abuse resulted in physical injury or property damage, the protection order may require the offender to make reimbursements for the child’s expenses. If the child and their parent had to relocate on account of the violence, the offender may be required to pay for moving expenses
  • Counseling: Child protection orders can even require an abusive to take steps towards self-improvement, such as mandatory counseling sessions, substance abuse rehabilitation, or anger management courses.

Thus, child protection orders can often provide a variety of protections for a child who has been subject to abuse or is in danger of being abused. 

How Long do Child Protection Orders Last?

Child protection orders are similar to temporary restraining orders in that they often expire within a time specified by state statute. The length of time in which a protection order may be enforced will vary by state. For example, some states limit protection orders to a 90-day time period.  Other states such as Ohio may set the duration of a child protection for 3-5 years. The typical time allotted is one year, with possible extensions.

The child protection order is usually enforced until more evidence is gathered regarding the case. In serious cases, a permanent restraining order can be granted by the judge, which can last indefinitely. 

If the child is in immediate danger of harm, a judge can sometimes issue a protection order ex parte (without the offending party being present at the hearing). Emergency protection orders can also be obtained in a short time if necessary. 

What Are the Legal Consequences of Violating a Child Protection Order?

Violations of child protective orders are treated very seriously and will result in strict legal consequences.  Some states enforce a fine of up to $1,000, and mandatory jail time for such violations. Repeat offenses will result in even stricter penalties.

A person who has had a child protection order issued against them can also experience some legal consequences, even if they have not violated the protection order. For example, federal laws prohibit a person from owning a firearm if they are currently subject to a child protection order.   

Do I Need a Lawyer for Child Protection Orders?

If you need help obtaining a child protection order, a family lawyer can be of great assistance. Also, if you need help enforcing a child protection order, your attorney can guide you through the process of obtaining a remedy. An experienced family lawyer can inform you of the details of your state’s laws.