What’s the Difference between Restraining Orders & Domestic Violence (DV) Orders of Protection?

Know the facts so you know how to take action.
Know the facts so you know how to take action.

Restraining Orders and DV Orders of Protection are terms often used interchangeably. Both are designed to protect a victim from someone who is harassing, abusing or stalking.  However, both are different legal orders in New Mexico. It’s important to know the distinction between the two so that you can determine how to proceed if you need protection.

What are DV Orders of Protection? (Family Court)

Domestic Violence (DV) Orders of Protection are heard in family court because the violence or abuse involves what’s termed a “household member.” This term can be confusing, because technically – the person you’re asking for protection from doesn’t actually have to live in your house.  If there’s been a continual or intimate relationship, like between a boyfriend or girlfriend, that would meet the definition and requirement for “household member.”  If your abuser or harasser is for instance a neighbor or a co-worker or even just a friend of yours, the course of action would more likely be to apply for a “restraining order” in civil court.  DV orders of protection restrict the offender from certain behaviors, such as contacting you via phone, text, or email, or from even being within a certain physical proximity to you.
In New Mexico, a Hearing Officer decides whether there is a valid reason for you to be granted protection.   If the Hearing Officer grants your request for protection, it is usually only a temporary order pending a hearing that will allow the accuser an opportunity to respond.  DV orders of protection are easy to apply for but it is recommended that you hire an experienced attorney to represent you in the hearing.  It also important to note that if domestic violence is involved in your divorce or custody case, many New Mexico lawyers won’t do the domestic violence part of your case.  Dorene Kuffer is an experienced family law attorney and a seasoned criminal defense attorney.  She can provide you with expert representation in all aspects of your case.

What is a Restraining Order?  (Civil Court)

While Restraining Orders prevent a person from contacting you the same way a DV Order of Protection does, a Restraining Order is filed in civil court. When you file for a restraining order, you’ll detail the harm the person has caused, and offer a detailed request for what kind of relief you want, such as stopping the defendant from contacting you or coming onto your property.

Contact an Experienced Domestic Violence Attorney

Dorene A. Kuffer has represented victims of violence for more than 30 years. She is the one of the few attorneys in Albuquerque, New Mexico who will take divorce cases that have a domestic violence component. Her expertise in all aspects of family and criminal law gives her critical understanding of how domestic violence affects the entire family.
Contact us to meet with Dorene during a consultation at her Albuquerque, NM family law office.