Relief Available Under the Domestic Abuse Act

Petition for relief

A petition for relief under the Domestic Abuse Act is known as a petition for an OFP in cases of domestic abuse. A petition for relief may be made by any family or household member.

In the case of a minor, the petition may be made by a family or household member or guardian, or, if the court finds it is in the best interests of the minor, by a reputable adult age 25 or older on behalf of minor family or household members. A minor who is age 16 or older may make the petition on the minor’s own behalf against a spouse or former spouse, or a person with whom the minor has a child in common, if the court determines that the minor has sufficient maturity and judgment and that it is in the best interests of the minor.

The petition must allege the existence of domestic abuse and be accompanied by an affidavit stating the specific facts and circumstances from which relief is sought. The petition must state whether the petitioner has ever had an OFP in effect against the respondent and provide information on other designated legal proceedings that are in effect between the parties. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 4.

Relief available

In a proceeding for an OFP under the Domestic Abuse Act, the court may provide the following relief, upon notice and hearing:

  • restrain the abusing party from committing acts of domestic abuse exclude the abusing party from the dwelling which the parties share or from the residence of the petitioner
  • exclude the abusing party from a reasonable area surrounding the dwelling or residence
  • award temporary custody or establish temporary visitation with regard to minor children of the parties on a basis which gives primary consideration to the safety of the victim and the children
  • establish temporary support for minor children or a spouse and order the withholding of support from the income of the person obligated to pay the support  House Research Department Revised: September 2007 Domestic Abuse Laws in Minnesota
  • upon request of the petitioner, provide counseling or other social services for the parties, if married, or if there are minor children order the abusing party to participate in treatment or counseling services award temporary use and possession of property and make other orders regarding property exclude the abusing party from the place of employment of the petitioner or otherwise limit the abusing party’s access to the petitioner at the petitioner’s place of employment;
  • order the abusing party to pay restitution to the petitioner
  • order the continuance of all currently available insurance coverage without change in coverage or beneficiary designation order, in its discretion, other relief it deems necessary for the protection of a family or household member, including orders or directives to the sheriff or constable

Relief that is granted by the order is for a fixed period of time, not to exceed one year, except when the court determines a longer fixed period is appropriate.2 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 6

Marriage dissolution issues

The part of an order that restrains the abusing party from committing acts of domestic abuse may not be vacated or modified in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation. The court, however, upon notice of motion and motion, may hear a motion for modification of an OFP concurrently with a proceeding for dissolution of marriage. If the proceedings are consolidated and the motion to modify is granted, a separate order for modification of an OFP must be issued.

If a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation is pending between the parties, the court shall provide a copy of the OFP to the court with jurisdiction over the dissolution or separation proceeding. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 6.

Dwelling issues

The part of an order excluding the abusing party from the dwelling that the parties share, or from the residence of the petitioner, is not voided by the admittance of the abusing party into the dwelling from which the abusing party is excluded. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 6.

A person’s right to apply for relief is not affected by the person’s leaving the residence or household to avoid abuse. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 10.

Other civil or criminal remedies

Proceedings under the Domestic Abuse Act are in addition to other civil or criminal remedies. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 16.

Application of OFP

An OFP that is granted under the Domestic Abuse Act applies throughout the state. Also, under the federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994, the OFP is enforceable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, tribal lands, and U.S. territories. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 20; 18 U.S.C. § 2265.

A valid foreign protective order issued by an Indian tribe or a court in another state has the same effect and shall be enforced in the same manner as an OFP issued in this state. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 19a.

Distribution of OFP and change in residence

The court administrator is to forward each OFP to the local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the residence of the applicant within 24 hours of the order’s issuance. Each law enforcement agency must make available to other law enforcement agencies information as to the existence and status of any OFP.

If the applicant notifies the court administrator of a change in the applicant’s residence, which results in a different local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the residence, the OFP must be forwarded by the court administrator to the new law enforcement agency within 24 hours of the notice. Also, if the applicant notifies the new law enforcement agency that an OFP has been issued and the applicant has established a new residence within that agency’s jurisdiction, the local law enforcement agency shall request a copy of the order from the court administrator within 24 hours. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 13.

Extensions of orders and subsequent orders

The court may extend the relief granted in an existing OFP or, if an earlier OFP is no longer in effect when an application for subsequent relief is made, grant a new order. An extension or new order may be granted upon a showing that:

  • the respondent has violated a prior or existing OFP;
  • the petitioner is reasonably in fear of physical harm from the respondent;
  • the respondent has engaged in acts of harassment or stalking within the meaning of section 609.749, subdivision 2; or the respondent is incarcerated and about to be released, or has recently been released.

A petitioner does not need to show imminent physical harm to obtain an extension or subsequent order. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 6a.

Modification of orders

The court may modify the terms of an existing OFP upon application, notice to all parties, and hearing. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 11.

Ex parte orders

The court may grant an ex parte order (an order granted upon request of the petitioner, without notice to the respondent) where an application for relief alleges an immediate and present danger of domestic abuse. The court may grant the relief it deems proper, including:

  • restraining the abusing party from committing acts of domestic abuse;
  • excluding any party from the dwelling they share or from the residence of the other except by further order of the court;
  • excluding the abusing party from the place of employment of the petitioner or otherwise limiting access to the petitioner by the abusing party at the petitioner’s place of employment; and
  • continuing all currently available insurance coverage without change in coverage or beneficiary designation.

If an ex parte order has been issued, a full hearing must take place at the request of the petitioner or respondent. The respondent has five days from the service of the order to request a hearing. The ex parte order shall be effective for a fixed period set by the court or until modified or vacated by the court pursuant to a hearing.3 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 7.

If the petitioner seeks ex parte relief beyond asking the court to restrain the abusing party from committing acts of domestic abuse, the petitioner must request a hearing to seek the additional relief. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 7.


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.


2 An order is also effective upon a referee’s signature.

3 An order is also effective upon a referee’s signature.