Securing Civil Protection Orders for Teens When Laws Ignore Teens

Lisa Vollendorf Martin, The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law


Despite the pervasiveness of violence in teen relationships, civil protection order statutes largely ignore teens. The accessibility of protection orders for teens depends primarily on the scope of their rights to standing and legal capacity to pursue claims for protection. Because states largely fail to detail expressly the circumstances under which teens are accorded standing to seek protection orders and legal capacity to represent their own interests in related court proceedings, the accessibility of protection orders for teens in most states remains in flux.

This article explores legal principles and policy arguments that support the extension of standing and legal capacity to teens to seek protection orders without adult involvement where laws are ambiguous. The article concludes with an advocacy roadmap to help practitioners assess the viability of teen claims and devise strategies to enable teens to obtain protection orders under the laws of their jurisdiction.