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Should I file a cross-petition in a CPO case in D.C.?

Jamison KoehlerDomestic Violence

Domestic abuse is not always one-sided.  Nor is the person who first calls police or files for a civil protection order (CPO) necessarily the true or only victim in a case of domestic violence.  

If you have been served with a petition for CPO in D.C. and you yourself are the victim of abuse at the hands of the person who filed the petition, you can file for a CPO of your own.  In this event, you become both the “respondent” in the case and the “cross-petitioner.”  The other party is the “petitioner” and the “cross-respondent.”  

The two petitions will be adjudicated at the same time. The petitioner will present his/her case.  Then it will be the cross-petitioner’s turn.  The court could grant either petition.  Alternatively, in what would amount to a mutual stay-away arrangement, it could decide to grant both petitions. 

In order to request a cross-petition, you would need to follow the same steps as the original petitioner.  For example, you would need to swear out an affidavit, appear in front of a judge, and then serve the petition on the other party. Your petition would also need to satisfy the same criteria as the person filing the original petition.  Specifically, you would need to allege some form of harassing, assaultive, threatening or stalking behavior that puts you in reasonable fear for your safety.  

The most immediate benefit of the resulting CPO will be to protect your safety.  The filing of a cross-petition can also improve your negotiating leverage when attempting to convince the other party to drop its petition against you.