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Domestic Abuse Protective Orders (Civil)

A domestic abuse protective order in Iowa is a legal document issued by the court to protect an individual from abuse or threats of harm by another person. This order aims to provide immediate legal protection and prevent further acts of violence or intimidation. Domestic abuse protective orders are frequently sought in cases of domestic violence, stalking, or situations where one individual poses a threat to the safety and well-being of another.

Key elements of domestic abuse protective orders in Iowa include:
Legal Basis

To obtain a domestic abuse protective order, the person requesting the order (referred to as the protected party) must demonstrate to the court that they have been a victim of domestic abuse assault and that there is a credible threat of future harm. Domestic abuse means committing assault as defined in the Iowa code section for “Assault.” 

Defining “Domestic”
  1. Iowa code provides for several circumstances wherein the abuse constitutes “domestic abuse”:
  2. The assault is between family or household members who resided together at the time of the assault.
  3. The assault is between separated spouses or persons divorced from each other and not residing together at the time of the assault. 
  4. The assault is between persons who are parents of the same minor child, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time. 
  5. The assault is between two persons who have been family or household members residing together within the past year and are not residing together at the time of the assault. 
  6. The assault is between persons who are in an intimate relationship or have been in an intimate relationship and have had contact within the past year of the assault. Iowa law provides factors for the court to consider when determining whether persons are or have been in an intimate relationship. 
Temporary Orders

Upon good cause shown, the court may enter a temporary protective order if the court deems it necessary to protect the protected party (person making the request) from domestic abuse prior to the fully evidentiary hearing.

Timing for Hearing

Iowa law provides that not less than five and not more than fifteen days after initiating a domestic abuse protective order proceeding and upon notice to the other party, an evidentiary hearing shall be held wherein the protected party must prove the allegation of domestic abuse by a preponderance of the evidence. 

Final Orders

Following the full evidentiary hearing, the court will either dismiss the matter (including the temporary protective order) or grant the request and enter a final domestic abuse protective order that is enforceable for one year. 

Restrictions and Prohibitions

Domestic abuse protective orders typically include specific provisions such as maintaining a certain distance from the protected party, refraining from any contact, and prohibiting the alleged abuser from entering the protected party’s residence or workplace. However, in matters wherein the parties have a child together, the court can make certain modifications to the standard language used to allow for certain communication between the parties only as it relates to the child, provided that both parties are in agreement. 

Firearms Restrictions

In cases involving domestic violence, the court may order the removal of firearms or prohibit the alleged abuser from possessing firearms during the duration of both a temporary and final protective order.

Violation Consequences

Violating the terms of a domestic abuse protective order is a serious offense and can result in legal consequences, including arrest and additional jail time.


The duration of a final domestic abuse protective order in Iowa is one year. Final protective orders may be extended, often up to one year or more, upon the request of the protected party and a sufficient showing of evidence that there continues to be a threat posed to the safety and well-being of the protected party. 

Legal Representation

Both the petitioner and the respondent have the right to legal representation during the court proceedings related to a civil protective order. Legal counsel can help individuals understand their rights and present their case effectively.

Understanding the legal implications and procedures surrounding domestic abuse protective orders in Iowa is essential for individuals seeking protection or facing allegations. Seeking the guidance of an experienced family law attorney can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the process and ensuring that the rights and safety of all parties involved are appropriately addressed.

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