There are key differences between a civilian protection order, which is issued and enforced by state courts, and military protection orders issued and enforced by the military. Understanding the differences will help you determine which to get.

How the two protection orders are issued

State courts issue civilian protection orders:. Both sides get an opportunity to tell their story at a hearing before any final orders are issued.

On the other hand, military protection orders are issued by the commanding officer, who orders the service member to stop the abuse. A key difference here is that the service member does not get a chance to respond – meaning there is no hearing. If you don’t want to see the other person at a hearing, this is an option. Unfortunately, there is a downside to military protection orders.

Since the service member does not tell their story at a hearing, due process is not being followed. As a result, states, tribes, and territories will not enforce military protection orders. Meaning that if a service member harasses you off base and you need to call the police, then the police will not enforce the military protection order.

Additionally, if the service member is transferred from that installation, the military protection order will no longer be valid. The service member must be attached to the installation where the military protection order was issued for it to be enforceable.

If the victim is worried about the military protection order becoming unenforceable upon the service member’s transfer, the victim can request the commanding officer to communicate the military protection order and the circumstance which caused it to get issued. The new commanding officer might re-issue the military protection order.

How to serve a civilian protection order against someone living on base

The service member needs to get served with the civilian protection order; however, this is easier said than done. This is because local law enforcement and service agencies don’t have the right to serve papers on military bases. Therefore, you need to arrange to serve the papers off-base or find out if there is a handshake agreement between the military and local enforcement on how service members will get served.

If you manage to get the service member served, the good news is that the military will enforce the civilian protection order on-base.

So, which one should you get?

If you can get the service member served with a civilian protection order, and if the state court grants the order, this provides you with the best protection. The military will enforce the civilian protection order on base, and the local law enforcement will enforce the civilian protection order off base.

However, if you’re unable to get the service member served, then the military protection order at least provides partial protection and does not require a hearing. If something occurs off base, then report the incident to the service member’s commanding officer.

Chad Foster is a trusted family law and divorce lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.

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