A. A victim of domestic abuse, a victim of stalking, a victim of harassment, a victim of rape, any adult or emancipated minor household member on behalf of any other family or household member who is a minor or incompetent, or any minor age sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) years may seek relief under the provisions of the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act.
1. The person seeking relief may file a petition for a protective order with the district court in the county in which the victim resides, the county in which the defendant resides, or the county in which the domestic violence occurred. If the person seeking relief is a victim of stalking but is not a family or household member or an individual who is or has been in a dating relationship with the defendant, the person seeking relief must file a complaint against the defendant with the proper law enforcement agency before filing a petition for a protective order with the district court. The person seeking relief shall provide a copy of the complaint that was filed with the law enforcement agency at the full hearing if the complaint is not available from the law enforcement agency. Failure to provide a copy of the complaint filed with the law enforcement agency shall constitute a frivolous filing and the court may assess attorney fees and court costs against the plaintiff pursuant to paragraph 2 of subsection C of this section. The filing of a petition for a protective order shall not require jurisdiction or venue of the criminal offense if either the plaintiff or defendant resides in the county. If a petition has been filed in an action for divorce or separate maintenance and either party to the action files a petition for a protective order in the same county where the action for divorce or separate maintenance is filed, the petition for the protective order may be heard by the court hearing the divorce or separate maintenance action if:
a. there is no established protective order docket in such court, or
b. the court finds that, in the interest of judicial economy, both actions may be heard together; provided, however, the petition for a protective order, including, but not limited to, a petition in which children are named as petitioners, shall remain a separate action and a separate order shall be entered in the protective order action. Protective orders may be dismissed in favor of restraining orders in the divorce or separate maintenance action if the court specifically finds, upon hearing, that such dismissal is in the best interests of the parties and does not compromise the safety of any petitioner.
If the defendant is a minor child, the petition shall be filed with the court having jurisdiction over juvenile matters.
2. When the abuse occurs when the court is not open for business, such person may request an emergency temporary order of protection as authorized by Section 40.3 of this title.
B. The petition forms shall be provided by the clerk of the court. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall develop a standard form for the petition.
C. 1. Except as otherwise provided by this section, no filing fee, service of process fee, attorney fees or any other fee or costs shall be charged the plaintiff or victim at any time for filing a petition for a protective order whether a protective order is granted or not granted. The court may assess court costs, service of process fees, attorney fees, other fees and filing fees against the defendant at the hearing on the petition, if a protective order is granted against the defendant; provided, the court shall have authority to waive the costs and fees if the court finds that the party does not have the ability to pay the costs and fees.
2. If the court makes specific findings that a petition for a protective order has been filed frivolously and no victim exists, the court may assess attorney fees and court costs against the plaintiff.
D. The person seeking relief shall prepare the petition or, at the request of the plaintiff, the court clerk or the victim-witness coordinator, victim support person, and court case manager shall prepare or assist the plaintiff in preparing the petition.
E. The person seeking a protective order may further request the exclusive care, possession, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either the petitioner, defendant or minor child residing in the residence of the petitioner or defendant. The court may order the defendant to make no contact with the animal and forbid the defendant from taking, transferring, encumbering, concealing, molesting, attacking, striking, threatening, harming, or otherwise disposing of the animal.
F. A court may not require the victim to seek legal sanctions against the defendant including, but not limited to, divorce, separation, paternity or criminal proceedings prior to hearing a petition for protective order.
G. A victim of rape, forcible sodomy, a sex offense, kidnapping, assault and battery with a deadly weapon or member of the immediate family of a victim of first-degree murder, as such terms are defined in Section 40 of this title, may petition for an emergency temporary order or emergency ex parte order regardless of any relationship or scenario pursuant to the provisions of this section. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall modify the petition forms as necessary to effectuate the provisions of this subsection.
Laws 1982, c. 255, § 3; Laws 1983, c. 290, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 1983; Laws 1991, c. 112, § 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Laws 1992, c. 42, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1992; Laws 1993, c. 325, § 15, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Laws 1994, c. 290, § 55, eff. July 1, 1994; Laws 1996, c. 247, § 30, eff. July 1, 1996; Laws 1997, c. 403, § 7, eff. Nov. 1, 1997; Laws 2000, c. 370, § 6, eff. July 1, 2000; Laws 2001, c. 279, § 3, eff. Nov. 1, 2001; Laws 2003, c. 407, § 2, eff. Nov. 1, 2003; Laws 2006, c. 302, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 2006; Laws 2008, c. 189, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 2008; Laws 2010, c. 116, § 3, eff. Nov. 1, 2010; Laws 2013, c. 198, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 2013; Laws 2019, c. 113, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 2019.