what is a civil standby in family law

Restraining Orders: What is a Civil Standby?

Goldberg Jones Divorce Leave a Comment

UPDATED: It’s no secret that divorces often become contentious. Conflict forms a big part of the proceedings. Depending on the circumstances, many involve the use of restraining orders.

These court orders can be useful tools to protect people and assets, but they’re also often complicated, so it’s important to know how to navigate them. A civil standby is one element worth knowing about. 

Restraining orders cover a variety of areas. During divorce proceedings, they’re commonly used to prevent people from taking money from joint accounts, retirement savings, or running up debt. Courts also often use them to control the behavior of one or both spouses. For example, a restraining order may bar your ex from contacting you or coming to your home.

This is where civil standbys come into play.

Related Reading: Learn More About Restraining Orders

What is a Civil Standby?

Simply put, a civil standby gives the person affected by the restraining order the opportunity to collect personal effects without violating the court order. If you’re barred from a home, this affords you the chance to gather clothes and other belongings without fear of legal action or arrest.

Regardless if you’re the petitioner or a restraining order or the respondent, it’s important to understand how a civil standby works and its limitations.

How A Civil Standby Works

In Oregon, you request a civil standby through your local police department.

  • Officers will be dispatched to meet the person restricted by the restraining order at a neutral location.
  • They will brief the respondent and accompany this person to the place in question.
  • This person then has a maximum of 20 minutes to collect their belongings.
  • If there is a dispute, the item in question remains at the property and the respondent must take further legal action to establish ownership.

This last point is especially important as it illustrates one of the key limitations of a civil standby. There are specific things a police officer will and will not do in this process. 

Key among these is that officers will not step in to settle any disputes over who owns an item.

Think of the officers like chaperones there to make sure everyone stays safe and plays by the rules. They accompany the respondent and supervise the removal of undisputed essential property. They won’t get involved in such quarrels, that falls to you and your ex to determine. 

As said, if there is a disagreement about ownership, the parties must settle that at a later date. In this case, you will want to talk with your divorce attorney. You may have to pursue an enforceable court order to collect items in dispute. 

Another limit to the civil standby is time.

If the time exceeds 20 minutes and the respondent refuses to leave or become uncooperative, they can be arrested for violating the restraining order.

Additionally, a civil standby does not guarantee access to the property.

The police can’t require the petitioner of the original order to grant entry. Police are there to ensure no crime is committed and no injury is incurred, that’s all.

In cases where restraining orders come into play, a civil standby can be a useful tool. Especially from a practical standpoint, as it can gain you access to items you need that may have been left behind. That said, it’s important to know what they can and can’t do, whichever side you find yourself on.

Related Reading: 5 Ways to Save Money on Your Divorce

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