What are the implications of a civil protection order in a Michigan custody case?

Understanding Civil Protection Orders in Michigan

In the state of Michigan, a civil protection order, commonly referred to as a personal protection order (PPO), is a legal injunction that protects victims of harassment, stalking, or abuse. When it intersects with custody cases, it can have significant ramifications on the outcome of parental rights and responsibilities.

The Direct Implications on Custody Cases

When one parent secures a civil protection order against the other, especially in cases involving domestic violence or threats to the welfare of the child, the court's primary concern becomes the safety and well-being of the child involved. The presence of a PPO raises serious concerns about a parent's suitability for custody or visitation rights.

Limited Parenting Time: A parent against whom a PPO has been issued might find their parenting time severely restricted. The court may determine that supervised visitation is necessary to ensure the child's safety, or in extreme cases, deny visitation rights altogether.

Impact on Legal Custody: Legal custody refers to a parent's right to make important decisions about their child's life, including education, health care, and religious upbringing. A civil protection order can influence a judge's decision-making concerning legal custody rights by highlighting potential risks posed by the restrained parent.

Modification of Existing Custody Orders: If a PPO is issued after a custody order is in place, it may prompt the court to revisit and potentially modify the existing arrangement in favor of the protected parent.

Case Examples and Historical References

Historically, Michigan courts have consistently prioritized child safety in custody disputes. For example, in Lombardo v Lombardo, the court modified an existing custody order when evidence of domestic violence surfaced. The issuance of a PPO was considered substantial evidence of risk to the child, leading to restrictions on the offending parent’s access.


A civil protection order can dramatically alter the landscape of a Michigan custody case. It sends a strong signal to the court regarding parental fitness and safety concerns that cannot be ignored. Parents facing custody disputes must understand these implications and seek legal counsel to navigate these complex situations effectively.