The Missouri legal system is organized in such a way that individuals have a good deal of agency when it comes to protecting their own safety. An example of this is the availability of ex parte orders of protection.
Ex parte orders allow abused individuals to file petitions with the court in order to obtain immediate legal protection from the parties they accuse of abuse. However, these are not full orders of protection.
According to FindLaw, 15 days is the maximum amount of protective time this temporary restraining order is able to provide. The petitioner— the abused person, in other words— must schedule a full hearing before the 15 days pass. However, these temporary orders, similarly to the full versions, offer a variety of protections for abused individuals under a specific set of circumstances.
The period immediately following an individual's filing of an ex parte protection petition is often one of the more difficult times in the relationship between the abuser and the abused. Actions taken during this time by either party have the potential to drastically influence the decision a judge reaches regarding the full order. According to a guide published by the Clay County Circuit Clerk and Family Court Services, there are several factors that could influence the outcome of the protective order hearing:
- Testimony of both sides
- Attitude and decorum of abuser and abused in court
- Any violation of the order by the abused
- Eyewitness accounts and other evidence
The Clay County resource also mentions that, while law enforcement officers attempt to serve court summons to the abuser, this is not always possible within the brief timeframe of 15 days. The abused must still appear in court to request an extension of the temporary order.