An application for relief under the Domestic Abuse Act may be filed in any of the following:
- the court having jurisdiction over dissolution actions or the county of residence of either party
- the county in which a pending or completed family court proceeding involving the parties or their minor children was brought
- the county in which the alleged domestic abuse occurred
There are no residency requirements that must be met in order to petition for an OFP.
Actions under the Domestic Abuse Act are to be given docket priority by the court. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 3.
The filing fees for an OFP under the Domestic Abuse Act are waived for the petitioner. Also, the court administrator, sheriff, and law enforcement and corrections officers must perform their duties relating to service of process without charge to the petitioner.
Corrections officers include probation officers, court services officers, parole officers, and employees of jails or correctional facilities. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 3a.
The Domestic Abuse Act requires that the petition and any order issued under the act be served upon the respondent personally. In lieu of personal service of an OFP, a law enforcement officer may serve a respondent with a short form notification and the respondent must report to the nearest sheriff’s office or county court to obtain a copy of the OFP. If personal service cannot be made, the court may order service of the petition and any order by alternative means or by publication. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subds. 8 and 8a.
Service of a petition under the Domestic Abuse Act may be made upon an employee at the employee’s place of employment or upon a student at a postsecondary institution. Minn. Stat. § 543.20.
Sheriff assistance in service or execution. When the court issues an order upon request of the petitioner, the court must order the sheriff or constable to accompany the petitioner and assist the petitioner in obtaining possession of the dwelling or residence. The sheriff or constable also must assist in execution or service of the OFP. If the respondent is not in the county where the application for relief was brought, the sheriff must forward the pleadings necessary for service to the sheriff in the county in which the respondent is present. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 9.
The court’s duties include:
- providing simplified forms and clerical assistance to help with the writing and filing
- of a petition;
- advising the petitioner of the right to file a motion and affidavit and to sue in forma pauperis;
- assisting with the writing and filing of the motion and affidavit;
- advising the petitioner of the right to serve the respondent by published notice, if the respondent is avoiding personal service by concealment or otherwise, and assisting with the writing and filing of the motion and affidavit;
- advising the petitioner of the right to seek restitution under the petition for relief;
- advising the petitioner of the right to request a hearing and that the respondent may
- request a hearing if the petitioner does not request a hearing; and
- advising the petitioner of the right to request supervised parenting time.
Notice as to parenting time
A petition and order must include a notice to the respondent that, if an OFP is issued to protect the petitioner or a child of the parties, the court must, on request of the petitioner, consider the OFP when making parenting-time decisions. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 8.
Upon receipt of the petition, the court shall order a hearing held not later than 14 days from the date of the order for the hearing unless the order is ex parte. Service of the notice of hearing must be made not less than five days before the hearing. Personal service of an ex parte order may be made upon the respondent at any time up to 12 hours before the hearing, but the respondent may request a five-day continuance. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 5.
Admissibility of testimony
Any testimony offered by a respondent in a hearing under the Domestic Abuse Act is inadmissible in a criminal proceeding. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 15.
OFP notice provision
Each OFP granted under the Domestic Abuse Act must contain a conspicuous notice to the person to be restrained that:
- violation of an OFP is either a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony;
- the respondent is forbidden to enter or stay at the petitioner’s residence, even if invited to do so by the petitioner or any other person, and that in no event is the OFP voided;
- a peace officer must arrest without warrant and take into custody a person whom the peace officer has probable cause to believe has violated an OFP restraining the person or excluding the person from a residence;
- pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, the order is enforceable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, tribal lands, and U.S. territories;
- violation of the order may subject the respondent to federal charges and punishment; and
- if a final order is entered against the respondent after the hearing, the respondent may be prohibited from possessing, transporting, or accepting a firearm under federal law.
Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 18.
Employer retaliation prohibited
An employer may not retaliate against an employee who takes time off from work to obtain or attempt to obtain an OFP. Except in cases of imminent danger or unless impracticable, the employee must give an employer 48 hours advance notice of taking leave. The employer may request that the employee provide verification that supports the reason for the absence. All information relating to the employee’s leave must be kept confidential. An employer who violates these provisions is guilty of a misdemeanor and must pay back wages and offer job reinstatement to any employee wrongfully discharged. In addition, an employee may bring a civil action against the employer. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 23.
This and any related posts have been adopted from the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department’s Information Brief, Domestic Abuse Laws in Minnesota – An Overview, written by legislative analyst Judith Zollar.
This post is also part of a series of posts on Domestic Abuse in Minnesota.