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2004 WATCH Order for Protection (OFP) Report

Date: October 15, 2004
Document: WATCH-Final-PDF-OFP-Report-2004.pdf
Country: United States of America
Type: Report
Issues: Court Monitoring , Women's Rights

WATCH began monitoring orders for protection (OFP) hearings in 1998, and in 1999 published a report with observations and recommendations in the fall edition of the WATCH Post. In that report, WATCH expressed concern about parties’ understanding of OFP proceedings, petitioner safety, the application of the federal law prohibiting firearm ownership for respondents, the timeliness of proceedings, and the court’s interpretation of the domestic abuse statute. WATCH’s study this year was conducted to follow up on patterns identified in the earlier report and to address new concerns that have arisen in the intervening years.

WATCH's greatest concerns about victim safety are as follows:

  • There are serious gaps in helping the parties to understand the OFP process and especially the final order.
  • The Family Justice Center has separate, monitored waiting rooms for petitioners and respondents, but these rooms are often not used.
  • While federal law prohibits OFP respondents from possessing firearms, petitioners continue to be threatened with guns.
  • Petitioner safety is often compromised when setting up communication with the respondent about children in common.