Orders For Protection: Does Abuse Have to be Imminent to Have an Order For Protection Granted?

Prior to a recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision, most family law attorneys would have advised a client that the standard to get an Order for Protection (OFP) is an “imminent fear” of domestic assault. Generally that meant that the abuse had to be somewhat recent for most cases to be successful in front of the Court.

The Minnesota Supreme Court published a decision on January 31, 2018 that has provided different direction on this issue. In the case In the Matter of Tracy Elizabeth Thompson and o/b/o Minor child and John Patrick Schrimsher, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that under the statute, there is no temporal requirement to the domestic abuse.

Minnesota Statute 518B.01 Subd. (2)(a) defines domestic abuse as:

  1. physical harm, bodily injury, or assault;
  2. the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault; or
  3. terroristic threats…criminal sexual misconduct…or interference with an emergency call…”

The Minnesota Supreme Court clarified and ruled that each of these definitions are individual and are not melded together. In the case referenced above, Ms. Thompson demonstrated and proved abuse that occurred years before the OFP was granted. She invoked the first definition that clearly does not have a temporal requirement.

The ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court will change how attorneys advise their clients into the future regarding OFP’s as there has now been clarification on the issue.

If you have questions related to a possible dissolution of marriage, child custody questions, or parenting time concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our office (952) 224-9410