What is a Personal Protection Order?

A Personal Protection Order (PPO) is a court order to stop threats or violence against you.  A PPO can help protect you from someone who is threatening, hurting or harassing you. You can get a PPO if you have a reasonable fear for your personal liberty or safety.

There are three types of PPOs:

  • Domestic Relationship PPO
  • Non-Domestic (Stalking) PPO
  • Non-Domestic (Sexual Assault) PPO

This article has information about all three types. If you need a PPO, you should first decide which type best fits your situation. Some of the information about a PPO filed by or against a minor is different.

Which Type of PPO is Right for Me?

Domestic Relationship PPO

To get a domestic relationship PPO, you must show the court that the abuser is likely to assault, threaten, harass or stalk you. You must also show that you and the abuser have or had a domestic relationship.

You have a domestic relationship with the abuser if he or she is:

  • Your current or ex-spouse
  • Your child’s other parent
  • Someone you live with now, or used to live with
  • Someone you have dated romantically

A domestic relationship PPO can prohibit the abuser from:

  • Entering your home or other place
  • Assaulting, attacking, beating, molesting, or wounding you or another person
  • Threatening to kill or physically injure you or another person
  • Removing your children from you if you have legal custody of them
  • Buying or possessing a gun/firearm
  • Interfering with you removing your children or personal property from a place the abuser owns or leases
  • Interfering with you at your job or school, or acting in a way that harms your job or school relationships or environment
  • Having access to your home/work address or telephone number in records that concern a child of both of yours
  • Stalking you
  • Any other specific act or behavior that interferes with your personal freedom or makes you reasonably afraid of something violent happening to you (this could include other specific behaviors that you want the court to prohibit)

You may ask for specific protections when you fill out your paperwork, but the judge will decide what your PPO will prohibit.

Non-Domestic (Stalking) PPO

The purpose of a non-domestic PPO is to protect you from stalking if you and the abuser don’t have a domestic relationship. To get a stalking PPO, you must show that there have been at least two incidents of stalking. Stalking is ongoing harassment that scares you, and that would scare a reasonable person. This could include following you, making unwanted phone calls or texts, or showing up repeatedly at your home or work.

A non-domestic PPO can prohibit the abuser from:

  • Following you or appearing within your sight
  • Approaching or confronting you in a public place or on private property
  • Appearing at your work or home
  • Coming onto property that you own, lease, or occupy
  • Calling you
  • Sending you mail, e-mail, or text messages
  • Placing objects on or delivering them to property that you own, lease or occupy
  • Buying or possessing a gun/firearm
  • Other, specific stalking behavior that you want the court to prohibit

A stalking PPO can also ban “cyberstalking,” which includes posting messages through electronic media such as Facebook.

You may ask for specific protections when you fill out your paperwork, but the judge will decide which actions your PPO will prohibit.

Non-Domestic (Sexual Assault) Personal Protection Order

The purpose of a non-domestic (sexual assault) PPO is to protect you from a person who has been convicted of sexually assaulting you, or a person who has threatened to sexually assault you, when you do not have a domestic relationship with that person. If you are under 18, sexual assault includes giving you or attempting to give you obscene material.

A non-domestic (sexual assault) PPO can prohibit the abuser from:

  • Entering your home or other place
  • Threatening to sexually assault, kill, or hurt you or another person
  • Buying or possessing a gun/firearm
  • Interfering with you removing your children or personal property from property the abuser owns or leases
  • Interfering with you at your job or school, or acting in a way that harms your job or school relationships or environment
  • Following you or appearing within your sight
  • Approaching or confronting you in a public place or on private property
  • Appearing at your work or home
  • Placing objects on or delivering them to property that you own, lease, or occupy
  • Calling you
  • Sending you mail, e-mail, or text messages
  • “Cyberstalking,” which could include posting an electronic message
  • Any other specific act or behavior that interferes with your personal freedom or makes you reasonably afraid of something violent happening to you (this could include other specific behaviors that you want the court to prohibit)

You may ask for specific protections when you file your paperwork, but the judge will decide what your PPO will prohibit.

How Do I Get a PPO?

To apply for a PPO, you must file a petition with the court. You can utilize the resources of the WRC, and one of our advocates can assist you in completing the appropriate petition.

The petition is used to give the court important information it needs to decide whether to give you the order you want. As best you can, tell the court what the abuser has done to you and how you have been harmed. Try to remember the dates or times of year the events happened. You don’t have to have police reports or other evidence to get a PPO, but if you do have them you should attach them to your petition. They can help the court understand what has happened to you.

You might be afraid the abuser will harm you if you don’t get a PPO right away. You might be afraid the abuser will harm you if he or she finds out you are asking for a PPO. If so, you can ask for an emergency order. This emergency order is called an ex parte order. If you get an ex parte order, you won’t have to wait for a hearing to get your order. With an ex parte order, the abuser won’t know you’re asking for a PPO until after you get your order.

If the judge requires a hearing before signing your order, it will be held within 21 days of the day you file your petition. If you don’t think you need an emergency order, or if a hearing is required, you must have a copy of the petition and a notice of hearing delivered to the abuser. The abuser will have the opportunity to attend the hearing and respond to the information in your petition. In this situation, the abuser will know you are asking for a PPO before you are protected by an order.

What will My PPO Say?

A PPO will state:

  • That your order is effective and immediately enforceable anywhere in the state
  • What actions the abuser is prohibited from doing
  • When your order expires
  • What happens if the abuser violates your order
  • The name of the specific law enforcement agency that will enter your order into the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN)

What Happens after the Judge Signs My PPO

Your PPO and petition must be served to the abuser. Your PPO can be enforced anywhere in Michigan as soon as it is signed by a judge. Once your order is served, it can be enforced anywhere in the United States.

There are several ways to serve the PPO and petition, but you are not allowed to serve them yourself. You should have service done in a way that keeps you safe. Once the PPO has been served, a form called Proof of Service must be filed with the court clerk.

Staying Safe with Your PPO

  • Carry a copy of your PPO and Proof of Service with you all of the time.
  • Keep a second copy in a safe place. You can ask the court for extra copies of the order (or you can make extra copies) to give to your children’s schools or day care providers, your place of work, and others who need to know about it.

Planning for Your Safety

Your chances of being hurt by the abuser may increase when you leave the relationship or seek legal help. Planning for your safety ahead of time can help. Your safety plan might include things like:

  • Where to go or who to call if you feel threatened
  • Important telephone numbers
  • An escape plan
  • Checklists of important things to take with you when you leave the abuser

Contact the Women’s Resource Center, the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help thinking about your safety options and making a safety plan.

Enforcing Your PPO

You might be tempted for many reasons to let the abuser do things which violate your PPO. Maybe you feel safe now that you have the order. Maybe the abuser promises things will be different. The abuser may ask to come to your house to pick up the children, but your PPO bans the abuser from coming to your house. Whatever the reason, you should not agree to behavior that violates your PPO. The abuser can be arrested for behavior that violates your PPO even if you agreed to it. If you want to change your order before it expires, you must go back to court and ask the judge to modify or terminate it.  The Women’s Resource Center can assist you with this process.

If the abuser violates your PPO, you can call the police and report the violation. You can get support and information about enforcing your order by calling the Women’s Resource Center. You can also file a Motion to Show Cause asking the court to hold the abuser accountable for violating your order. For more detailed information about how to enforce your PPO contact the Women’s Resource Center.


Getting a Personal Protection Order If You Are Under 18

If you are a minor, you can ask the court for a personal protection order (PPO). However, you cannot get a PPO on your own. You need help from someone called a “next friend”. A next friend is usually a parent or other adult whom you trust. Your next friend will file the PPO petition on your behalf.

PPOs are not for problems between parents and their children. You can’t get a PPO against your parent unless you are an emancipated minor. However, you can be protected from a parent by a PPO the court gives your other parent.

Choosing Your Next Friend

You may be able to choose your next friend, depending on your age. If you are 13 years old or younger, the court will choose a next friend for you. If you are between 14 and 17, you may choose your own next friend.

Your next friend should be an adult you trust. Your next friend should be someone who has time to help you and is willing to help you. Your next friend can be a:

  • parent
  • other relative
  • teacher
  • religious leader or
  • another adult you trust

Getting a PPO If the Abuser Is Under 18

You can get a PPO if the abuser is between 10 and 18 years old. You can’t get a PPO against a person who is under 10 years old. PPOs are not for problems between parents and their children. You can’t get a PPO against your child unless your child is an emancipated minor.

Some things are different for getting a PPO if the abuser is under 18:

  • You must file the personal protection order action in the circuit court in the county where you live, or where the abuser lives. This is different from a personal protection order action filed against an adult. Those can be filed in any Michigan county.
  • You must include the name(s) and address(es) of the abuser’s parent(s), guardian(s), or legal custodian(s) if you have that information or can easily obtain it.
  • You must serve the court papers on the abuser and the abuser’s parent(s), guardian(s), or custodian(s) if you know their location.
  • When a minor violates the terms of a PPO, its enforcement will be different from the enforcement against an adult. The court will enforce the PPO according to laws and rules for a juvenile delinquent.

Sexual Assault PPOs and Minors

A sexual assault PPO is to protect you from a person who has:

  • Been convicted of sexually assaulting you, or
  • Threatened to sexually assault you.

If you are under 18, you can also get a sexual assault PPO against someone who gave you obscene material. Giving obscene material to a minor is treated like threatening the minor with a sexual assault.

Do you or someone you know need help?

The mission of the Women's Resource Center is to protect, shelter, and empower people impacted by domestic and sexual violence. We're here 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide individual and group support and emergency shelter.

Call us at 800-554-4972

The Women's Resource Center offered me information and resources that were extremely helpful, but the affirmation that I was strong enough, smart enough and capable, through counseling obtained through WRC, was truly instrumental in moving forward from a very abusive relationship. I am grateful that they were there 13 years ago for me and that they are still helping so many other people.

- Kim, Domestic Assault Survivor
In 2019, the WRC provided 3,328 nights of safe housing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

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