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June 25, 2013

What is a military protective order (MPO)?

Unit commanders may issue military protective orders (MPOs) to an active duty Service member to protect a victim of domestic abuse/ violence or child abuse (the victim could be a Service member or a civilian). To qualify, you must be the spouse/ ex-spouse, current or former intimate partner, or have a child in common with the abuser. A victim, victim advocate, installation law enforcement agency, or FAP clinician may request a commander to issue an MPO.*

MPOs may order the abuser (referred to as "the subject") to:

  • have no contact or communication (including face-to-face, by telephone, in writing, or through a third party) with you or members of the your family or household;
  • stay away from the family home (whether it is on or off the installation);
  • stay away from the children's schools, child development centers, youth programs and your place of employment;
  • move into government quarters (barracks);
  • leave any public place if the victim is in the same location or facility;
  • do certain activities or stop doing certain activities;
  • attend counseling; and
  • to surrender his/her government weapons custody card.*

Commanders may tailor the order to meet your specific needs.*

An MPO is only enforceable while the Service member is attached to the command that issued the order. When the Service member is transferred to a new command, the order will no longer be valid. If the victim still believes that the MPO is necessary to keep him or her safe, the victim, a victim advocate, a FAP staff member may ask the commander who issued the MPO to contact the new commander to advise him or her of the MPO and to request the issuance of a new one.** The commander who issued the MPO is supposed to recommend to the new command that a new MPO is issued when the Service member is transferred to a new command and an MPO is still necessary to protect the victim.***

Civilian abusers cannot be subject to MPOs. They may only be subject to a civil protection order issued by a state or tribal court. However, a commanding officer may order that the civilian abuser stay away from the installation.*

Make sure that you get the MPO in writing from the commanding officer so that you can have it with you at all times.

* "The Military Response to Victims of Domestic Violence, Tools for Civilian Advocates," published by the Battered Women's Justice Project, www.bwjp.org
** Department of Defense Instruction, Number 6400.06, Incorporating Change 1, September 20, 2011
*** Department of Defense Instruction, Number 6400.06, Incorporating Change 1, September 20, 2011, section