In 1979 Minnesota’s Domestic Abuse Act was created to grant relief to victims of domestic abuse. Included in that relief is an Order for Protection (‘OFP’) which, among other remedies, makes it a crime for an abuser to have contact with the victim.
For a Court to grant an OFP, it needs to find that an act of ‘domestic abuse’ happened. The Domestic Abuse Statute (Section 518B.01) defines an act of ‘domestic abuse’ as any of the the following acts committed between family or household members:
- physical harm;
- bodily injury;
- assault, or
- infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault
Courts later added to this definition, to require that a victim of domestic abuse show either “present harm” or “an intention to do present harm” before a finding of domestic abuse was made. Andrasko v. Andrasko, 443 N.W.2d 228, 230 (Minn. Ct. App. 1989).
The word ‘present’ is not part of the definition of ‘domestic abuse’ in Minnesota, but, some courts believed it should be; and this made it more difficult for victims of domestic abuse to seek protections under the Domestic Abuse Act, since not all victims are immediately able to file for relief with the Court after being abused.
Thankfully the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2018 addressed this ambiguation by looking to the plain language of the Domestic Abuse Act; which does not require that actions occur within a ‘specific time period’ to be considered ‘domestic abuse’. The Court cautioned the lower courts, that it would be ‘inappropriate’ to read language into a definition authored by lawmakers, when those words don’t appear in the text of the Act. See Thompson v. Schrismer, 906 N.W.2d 495, 499 (Minn. 2018).
By declining to distort the language of Minnesota’s Domestic Abuse Act, the Supreme Court makes clear that a victim of domestic abuse need only show that “physical harm, bodily injury or assault” has occurred, regardless of when, to satisfy the definition of domestic abuse and to be entitled to the protections of the Domestic Abuse Act.
For information about a Domestic Abuse Order for Protection, please seek competent legal counsel by contacting us at Beyer & Simonson.
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If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.