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CSPO Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Civil Stalking Protection Orders (CSPO)

  • To obtain a CSPO you need to complete and file a petition and related documents. Forms for these documents can be obtained on the Clerk of Courts’ website, here: Link to Clerk of Courts website.


  • Help preparing the necessary CSPO documents - and other forms of help for victims of domestic violence and stalking – is available at the Family Justice Center, located at 75 Erieview Plaza, 5th Floor, Cleveland, Ohio, 44114. Link to google maps.   One may take the free green RTA B Line bus from the Justice Center to the Family Justice Center.    The B Line bus stops on Lakeside Avenue, just across the street from the Justice Center and on East 12th Street near the Family Justice Center.  Link to RTA B Line Route Map.   Additionally, metered parking is available on East 12th     


  • The CSPO petition is filed with the Clerk of Courts at Windows 5, 6, and 7 on the first floor of the Justice Center. Link to google maps


  • The Clerk’s staff will inform the petitioner if the case will be heard by the magistrate or the judge.  (See FAQ # 2 below for an explanation of the terms “petitioner” and “respondent”)  If heard by the magistrate, the Clerk’s staff will direct the petitioner to the magistrate’s department, located in the Courthouse Square Building, 310 West Lakeside Ave., 6th Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44113, on the northwest corner of West 3rd Street and Lakeside Avenue.  Link to google maps   Note that this is not the Old Courthouse, which is located at the intersection of Ontario and Lakeside Avenue.


  • If a petitioner requests an emergency protection order (by checking box 5 on the petition), then there are two hearings: an ex parte hearing where only the petitioner is present; and a full hearing where both the petitioner and the respondent have an opportunity to participate.


If the petitioner does not request an emergency hearing, then only the full hearing will be held.


  • In cases to be heard by a magistrate, the magistrate will hold an ex parte hearing as soon as possible after the petition is filed, usually the same day. The purpose of the ex parte hearing is to determine if the petitioner is under the threat of “imminent harm” from the respondent such that a temporary protection order is necessary to protect the petitioner before the full hearing.   


  • The magistrate will determine if an ex parte protection order is appropriate, prepare an order, set a date for the full hearing, and give the order to the petitioner to file with the Clerk of Courts.  If the ex parte CSPO is granted, the magistrate will also prepare a “10-A” form, which notifies law enforcement that the CSPO has been issued.


  • Once the order is received by the Clerk of Courts, the clerk will cause service of both the order and petition to be attempted on the respondent. (See FAQ 5 for a detailed description of service)  The Clerk will also transmit the information in the 10-A form to law enforcement.


  • If an ex parte CSPO order is granted, the initial full CSPO hearing must be scheduled within 10 court days of the ex parte hearing. All full hearings, whether heard by the judge or the magistrate, will take place in the Justice Center.


  • You are encouraged to consult with an attorney and be represented by an attorney in court. Court staff may not give legal advice. If you decide to represent yourself, however, and have questions regarding the court process or preparing your case for a full hearing, assistance for unrepresented litigants may be available by contacting the Court Resource Center at (216)348-4011.


  • If the full hearing is to be held by a magistrate, and if service of the petition has been made upon the respondent, the magistrate will hear testimony and review evidence of both the petitioner and the respondent before making a decision. Under Civ.R. 65.1(F)(3)(d), the parties may object to the magistrate’s decision within 14 days of the judge’s adoption of the magistrates decision.


  • If the full order is granted, it can remain in effect for as long as five years.


  • If, at the time of the full CSPO hearing, service is not properly made upon on the respondent, the magistrate will likely continue the full CSPO hearing to a later date to permit service.

The person seeking the protection order is the “petitioner.”


The person against whom the protection order is sought is the “respondent.”

A magistrate will hear all or a portion of your CSPO case when the assigned judge is unavailable or has otherwise referred the case to a magistrate.

In matters relating to the ex parte CSPO hearing, the magistrate has the same powers as a judge.


In matters relating to the full CSPO hearing, the magistrate’s rulings are subject to review by the judge assigned to the case.  In CSPO cases, the court will adopt the magistrate’s decision when it is issued or shortly thereafter.  The magistrate’s decision becomes a court order when adopted by the judge.


If you believe that a magistrate's decision is improper, an objection to the magistrate’s decision must be filed within 14 days of the date the decision is adopted by the judge.  

Service may take many steps:  


  • Under Civ.R. 65.1(C)(2), the initial attempt must be made to serve the respondent personally through the Sheriff’s Department at an address or addresses provided by the petitioner. If the Sheriff personally serves the respondent, service is complete.  If the Sheriff is unable to serve the respondent, the Sheriff will return the service attempt indicating failure of delivery.


  • After failure of the Sheriff’s attempts at personal service (or in addition to attempts at personal service), attempts at service are usually made by certified mail.   If the certified mail is accepted by the respondent, service is complete.   Service may also be made by other means, including commercial carrier.  See R. 4 -  Civ.R. 4.6.


  • If the certified mail is returned “unclaimed” or “refused,” the petition may be served by ordinary mail. As long as the ordinary mail is not returned as undeliverable, service is complete upon its mailing.


  • If the respondent cannot be served by any of the means described above, the respondent may be served by “posting.” See R.4.4(A)(2).  


  • For posting, the petitioner must sign an affidavit indicating that service cannot be made because the residence of the respondent is unknown and cannot be obtained with reasonable diligence and must set forth the efforts made to ascertain the respondent’s address. Here is a link to the affidavit for service by posting of notice form


  • The petition will be posted in a conspicuous place in the courthouse and in two other designated places in the county for a period of six weeks.


  • After the six weeks, the Clerk will note that posting is complete on the docket of the CSPO case. Service is complete upon the making of this docket entry.


Upon the failure of any of these steps, the petitioner must provide a written request instructing the Clerk take the next step towards service.  The Clerk’s staff at Windows 5, 6, and 7 on the first floor of the Justice Center will process the service requests.

To be entitled to a full CSPO under R.C. 2903.214, the petitioner must prove:

That the respondent knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct that:

  1. Caused the petitioner to believe that the respondent will cause physical harm to the petitioner or a member of the petitioner’s household; or  


  1. Caused mental distress to the petitioner or a member of the petitioner’s household.


A “pattern of conduct” means more than one act.

Or, the petitioner must prove that the respondent committed a sexually oriented offense. Sexually oriented offenses are listed at R.C. 2950.01.

There are other types of protection orders that relate specifically to criminal proceedings (see R.C. 2903.213; R.C. 2903.213), relate to minors (see R.C. 2151.34), or relate to domestic violence between household and family members (see R.C. 3113.31).   These other types of protection orders are not issued by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas General Division magistrates.   Staff at the Family Justice Center (See FAQ 1 above) can help you determine what type of protective order is appropriate for your circumstances.

A CSPO may protect the petition and the petitioner’s family or household members.


Family or household members include any of the following who is residing with or has resided with the petitioner:


  1. A spouse, a person living as a spouse, or a former spouse of the petitioner;


  1. A parent, a foster parent, or a child of the petitioner, or another person related by blood or marriage to the respondent;


  1. A parent or a child of a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the petitioner, or another person related by blood or marriage to a spouse, person living as a spouse, or former spouse of the respondent;


  1. The natural parent of any child of whom the petitioner is the other natural parent.


See R.C. 2903.214(A)((3); R.C. 3113.31.

Yes.  Civ.R. 65.1(4) allows either a petitioner or a defendant to file a motion to modify, renew, or terminate a CSPO after it is granted.   The motion must be served in the same manner as the original petition.  It is likely that the judge or magistrate will set the motion for hearing after it is served.

Under R.C. 2919.27 violation of the CSPO may be a crime and, as such, may be reported to local law enforcement or the County Prosecutor.  


You may also file a motion to have the respondent held in contempt of court under Civ.R. 65.1(4) and R.C. 2903.214(K)(1)(b).  The motion must be served in the same manner as the original petition.  It is likely that the judge or magistrate will set the motion for hearing after it is served.