Petition for Temporary Order of Protection (interactive form)
Before You Start
You can use the interactive Petition for Temporary Order of Protection to ask a court for a Temporary Order of Protection (TOP) and schedule a hearing. At the hearing the court will decide whether to keep the Temporary Order of Protection in place, and for how long.
The interactive program will fill in the forms based on the answers you give in an online interview. You’ll need to download and print the forms after you complete the online interview to file them with the Clerk of Court.
You may file the Petition for Temporary Order of Protection in Justice, City, Municipal, or District Court in the county:
- Where the abuse happened;
- Where you live; or,
- Where you fled to escape the abuse.
All courts can include children as protected individuals in Orders of Protection when the Respondent has abused or threatened to abuse the children.
Important: If you and the Respondent are already going to court for a divorce and/or a Parenting Plan, then you should file in the District Court overseeing that case, if the judge is available. An Order of Protection is not meant to take the place of a Parenting Plan. If you have any questions about where to file, talk to a lawyer. You can hire a private lawyer or apply for free legal help.
What counts as abuse?
Abuse can happen in different ways. It isn’t always physical abuse. To qualify for an Order of Protection, you’ll need to show the judge that you are in reasonable fear of bodily harm. Another way to say this is that someone else in your situation would also be scared for their safety. Physical abuse isn’t always necessary to be afraid for your safety. A person might act or do things in a specific way to make you fearful. This could include threats or threatening actions.
When you’re filling out an Order of Protection, describe the specific things that the other person did to make you fearful. You can describe a single event or a series of events. Use your own words since you are the best person to describe that feeling.
What Will Happen After I File?
The sheriff will serve the person you file the Order of Protection forms against. There may be free legal help available for people needing an Order of Protection.
Sometimes filing Order of Protection papers can make a situation more dangerous. You are the expert on how to keep you and your family safe. It's a good idea to talk to a Crime Victim Advocate or domestic violence shelter about coming up with your own safety plan. A safety plan can help you think through steps you can take to keep you and your family safe in your daily life. A safety plan can include an Order of Protection.
What You'll Need to Do the Form
The form will takes about 30 minutes to complete. It could take longer. You can create an account to stop, save, and return to your answers later. Be careful with saving your answers because your abuser could hack into your account and see what you plan on telling the court.
When completing the forms, you’ll need the following information about the person you are filing the Temporary Order of Protection against:
- Full legal name
- Location and mailing address
If a judge grants your Temporary Order of Protection you will need to give the sheriff's office more information to help them locate the person you are seeking protection from.
These forms are not right for everyone. The interview may tell you to talk to a lawyer based on the information you give.
Follow the link below Go to the Interactive Form to leave this screen and get started on your forms.
Need More Information?
If you have any questions about your rights or this form, it would be a good idea to read our article Order of Protection Frequently Asked Questions. You can also check out our article on safety planning.
Need Legal Help?
Montana Legal Services Association provides free civil legal help to eligible clients. Learn more about how to apply for free legal help.