It is a sad fact that many Minnesotans are not safe in their own homes. Their spouse or partner regularly threatens and abuses them physically, sexually or both. This perversion of love and marriage has no place in society, and when victims make the often-difficult decision to get out, the law can help protect them from their abusers.

We are speaking about orders for protection. Commonly known as a restraining order, an order of protection requires the person against whom the court issues it to stay a certain distance away from the victim. The alleged abuser also may not contact the victim in any way, and may have to give up all of his or her firearms, while the order is in effect.

If the person against whom the order has been issued violates the order, he or she can be sent to jail for at least three days or imprisoned for years, depending on the circumstances. Obviously, the State of Minnesota takes these violations seriously.

On the other end of the highly sensitive subject of domestic violence are those spouses and partner who are accused. Not every accusation is accurate, forcing the accused to spend time and money defending his or her rights against false claims. Among other things, the terms of an order of protection can completely cut off a parent from their children, at least for as long as the order remains in effect.

An order for protection can last a little while, or for years. The stakes are too high for both sides not to go to court without vigorous legal assistance.