Iowa Code chapter 236 provides relief to a victim of domestic abuse. This relief can include a protective order that prevents the abuser from contacting the victim. This relief can also include the court entering orders regarding visitation and support.
Relief in the form of a protective order is available under Iowa Code chapter 236 upon a finding that the alleged abuser has engaged in domestic abuse. To commence an action, a petition must be filed with the district court. Amongst other things, the petition must identify the parties and their relationship, explain the nature of abuse, and stating the desired relief.
After the filing of a petition, the court may enter a temporary protective order if the statements in the petition show that domestic abuse occurred. The temporary protective order can order the alleged domestic abuser to stay away from the petitioner and to not communicate with the petitioner. Further, the court may enter any temporary order it deems necessary to protect the petitioner from domestic abuse prior to the hearing, including temporary custody or visitation orders for minor children.
A hearing for a permanent protective order will be held five to fifteen days after the filing of the petition. At the hearing, the alleged abuser will have the opportunity to dispute the allegations in the petition and establish a defense to the allegations. If at the hearing, the petitioner establishes the allegations of domestic abuse by a preponderance of the evidence, the court may provide relief to the petitioner. Preponderance of the evidence means the evidence supporting the finding is greater in weight, influence, or force than the evidence supporting a different conclusion.
The court may enter an array of relief. The court may enter a permanent protective order that requires the abuser to cease domestic abuse; vacate the residence; stay away from the victim’s residence, school, and place of employment; and refrain from having firearms. Additionally, the court may enter an order awarding temporary custody of minor children and establishing visitations rights. The court may also enter an order for support for the petitioner and any minor children; professional counseling; and anything that will prevent further abuse. A permanent no contact order will remain in effect up to one year, but may be extended.
Similar relief can be granted under a consent decree. A consent decree does not require a finding of domestic abuse.
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