Restraining Orders: What is a Civil Standby?

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A civil standby is an opportunity for those restricted by a restraining order to gather essential personal effects without violating the restraining order. Regardless if you are the petitioner of the restraining order or the respondent, understanding how a civil standby works and its limitations is important.

In Oregon, a civil standby is requested through your local police department. Officers will be dispatched to meet the person who is restricted by the restraining order  (the respondent) at a neutral location. There the officers will brief the respondent that they will have a maximum of 20 minutes to collect their belongings and that any disputes over ownership will not be settled by the police. If there is a dispute, the item in question will remain at the property and the respondent will have to take further legal action to establish ownership.

There are significant limitations on what the police will and will not do during a civil standby. The officers will accompany the respondent to the premises and supervise the removal of undisputed essential property. Additionally, if the standby exceeds 20 minutes, the respondent refuses to leave and/or becomes uncooperative they can be arrested for violation of the restraining order.

The police cannot require the petitioner to allow access to the property. The officers are there to ensure no crime is committed and no injury is incurred—they won’t force compliance with allowing you entry to gather your belongings.

If you need to request a civil standby, contact your local police station or dispatch. You will need to let them know the circumstances and that you are requesting a civil standby.

If the ownership of an item is contested or if the other party is uncooperative, you will want to speak to your attorney. You may have to get an enforceable court order to collect items if there is a disagreement over ownership.

If you have questions or need more information about restraining orders, civil standbys, or any other family law issues, please give us a call (503) 731-8888. We are happy to answer questions over the phone.


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