Before the Hearing
Once a Personal Protection Order (PPO) is filed, the Respondent (the person the PPO protects you from) can ask the judge to change or end it. If your PPO was granted ex parte, the Respondent has 14 calendar days after finding out about the PPO to file a motion to modify or terminate it.
If the Respondent files this motion within 14 days, there will be a court hearing within 14 days of the filing. If the Respondent is a law enforcement officer and can’t have a gun because of the PPO, the hearing will be within five days.
The Respondent must have you served with notice of the hearing and a copy of the motion at least seven days before the hearing. If the Respondent is a law enforcement officer and can’t have a gun because of the PPO, the Respondent can have you served just one day before the hearing. The Respondent cannot serve these papers directly. You may be served in person by another adult. You may also be served by registered mail. If you were not notified on time in one of these ways, you were not properly served. You should still attend the hearing.
At the Hearing
At the hearing, you and the Respondent will each get a chance to tell your side of the story. If you were not properly served, tell the judge. Be prepared to talk about what you wrote in your petition. This includes what the Respondent has done to you and how you have been harmed. Also, explain how the Respondent’s actions caused you to fear for your safety and why your fear is reasonable. If the Respondent has violated the PPO in any way, tell the judge how. Be as specific as possible, including dates and times.
You may bring witnesses with you to the hearing. If the judge wants to hear from your other witnesses, they can say what they saw, heard, or know about the situation from firsthand experience. The Respondent will also have a chance to question your witnesses.
The judge will ask you to speak first because you are the Petitioner (the person who asked for the PPO). Then the Respondent will have a chance to talk. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether to continue, change, or end the PPO.
To learn more about what to expect at court, watch the Going to Court video.
In some cases, the Respondent must have good cause before the judge will listen to a motion to change or end the PPO. For example, the Respondent needs good cause if he or she filed the motion to modify or terminate more than 14 days after finding out about an ex parte PPO. In this case, the Respondent must show good cause (or a good reason) why the motion was not filed on time.
Another situation when the Respondent must have good cause is if the judge issued the PPO after a hearing (not ex parte). Then the Respondent must show good cause why he or she didn’t appear at the first hearing.
If the judge doesn’t believe the Respondent has good cause, the motion will be denied without a hearing.
Finding a Lawyer
You might decide you want a lawyer to help you. If you have a low income, you may qualify for free legal services. Whether you have a low income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area. If you are not able to get free legal services but can’t afford high legal fees, consider hiring a lawyer for part of your case instead of the whole thing. This is called limited scope representation. To learn more, read Limited Scope Representation (LSR): A More Affordable Way to Hire a Lawyer. To find a limited scope lawyer, follow this link to the State Bar of Michigan lawyer directory. This link lists lawyers who offer limited scope representation. You can narrow the results to lawyers in your area by typing in your county, city, or zip code at the top of the page. You can also narrow the results by topic by entering the kind of lawyer you need (divorce, estate, etc.) at the top of the page.