Military Protective Orders: A Comprehensive Guide

MPO protects military family members

A Military Protective Order (MPO) is a short order that bans a service member from communicating or contacting an individual considered a protected person. Military protective orders are issued mainly for three reasons: to protect victims, quell disturbances, and maintain good order and discipline. Consequently, victims have time to pursue protection orders through civilian authorities.

Understanding the repercussions of a military protective order, especially in domestic violence cases, is vital. This order protects military family members from abusive relatives who serve in the military. It also gives these family members enough time to pursue action against the military personnel in question.

Military Protective Order Vs. No Contact Order: The Difference

The main distinction between a military protective order and a no-contact order is that the former is civil while the latter is criminal. In the case of a no-contact order, the court must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused individual violated a no-court order. Meanwhile, the court must find that a person more likely than not violated a civilian order. Thus, it can be harder to prove a violation of a no-contact order than a civilian one.

For a no-contact order to be issued, there must be charges such as domestic assault, harassment, or other crimes brought to the State against a defendant. Meanwhile, for a protective order, a party must go to a courthouse and apply for a protective order against a military member.

Who Can Request Or Issue An MPO?

In general, any person can request a military protective order. However, this is usually issued upon request of a family member or victim advocate. Only the commanding officer of the accused service member is allowed to issue MPOs.

Accordingly to military law, only the acting military personnel commander can issue them an MPO. If the officer of an active duty service member is transferred to another unit, the new officer in charge should give another MPO for it to stay in effect.

How MPOS Are issued

According to the rules of military justice, an MPO can be issued to an active duty member in the aftermath of accusations of domestic violence or sexual assault. An MPO is given when a commanding officer has sufficient reason to believe that the service member behaved in a manner that may result in a court martial. The officer is also responsible for determining if the primary goals of an MPO are necessary, depending on the case’s circumstances.

The officer is free to determine whether a military protective order is necessary. If they deny the request, that officer must document the reason for the refusal and forward it to a Military Installation Commander for a final decision.

A military protective order can be issued in written format or verbally. However, most MPOs are given in written format, specifically on a DD Form 2873. It is usually easy to obtain this form. Victims or their victim advocates must contact relevant military authorities for assistance.

Terms After Issuance Of Military Protective Orders

Military protective orders exist to protect victims. While you’re issued an MPO, you may be subject to any or all of these terms:

No Communication

The MPO bans the persons identified from communicating with the protected persons directly or via a third party. This order includes face-to-face, telephone, fax, email, text, or letters.

Keep Your Distance

An MPO bans an accused member from approaching the alleged victims and their families. This entails being banned from visiting some places at certain times. There should be a certain distance observed, as stipulated by the commander.

Vacate Military Residence

If you live in a military home, you must leave the premises if the protected person also lives there.

Stay In A Temporary Housing Facility

If you’re required to vacate your military home, the military might provide temporary housing. You’ll be allowed to stay there while the order is issued.

Do Counselling

If you’ve been issued an MPO, you may be required to enrol and complete mandatory counselling.

Surrender Weapons

Your military commander may require you to surrender your weapons custody card or dispose of any firearms you can access.

Other Disciplinary Measures

The military officer can impose any prohibition, requirements, or restrictions they think necessary.

Support And Resources Available

Military And Civilian Support Services

When an MPO is given, the victims usually go to civilian police or civilian courts to pursue legal action against the service member. Victims of domestic abuse may file a legal order to protect themselves from the service members in question.

Counseling And Advocacy Programs

Going through domestic violence is a grave matter. Fortunately, programs like the Family Advocacy Program can provide the victims and their loved ones support to overcome the trauma. These programs also offer advice on which criminal charges they can pursue moving forward.

Confidentiality And Reporting Options

The victim needs to notify only the commanding officer of the accused service member for a military protective order to be issued. Thus, they can request that their identity be protected from other parties irrelevant to the case.

Duration, Renewal, Modification, And Termination Of MPOs

A Military Protective Order is a short order that can last as short as ten days. However, this order can remain in effect indefinitely. According to 10 US Code § 1567, the MPO will remain in effect until the officer terminates the order or issues a different order.

However, the Military Protective Order is valid only when the accused member is under the command of the officer who issued the MPO. A new MPO should be given if that officer is moved to a different unit. The victim or victim advocate has to submit another request to the new commander for this order to remain in effect in that case.

Challenges And Considerations Surrounding Military Protective Orders

While a Military Protective Order grants an alleged victim protection from service members, this order is not legally binding. Unless the accused member commits a crime, the local police cannot enforce the stipulations of these protective orders. The accused member would have to commit a crime for the local police to be allowed to step in.

Moreover, a Military Protect Order is similar to a court-issued order. The distinction is that the latter is issued exclusively by a criminal court. Only commanding officers of military personnel are allowed to give an MPO.

There’s also a possibility of potential abuses or misuse of an MPO. The military commander doesn’t have to be presented with evidence to issue an MPO. Thus, some members may be wrongfully accused even if there is no proof that they have hurt their family members.

Violations Of Military Protective Orders

Military members issued Military Protective Orders must adhere to the prohibitions they’re given. If they violate MPO terms, it will be considered a violation of UCMJ Article 92. This states that it is a violation of military law to willfully disobey or disregard a lawful order that a person is obliged to follow.

An accused member may have to pay penalties if there is a violation of the MPO. These penalties may include administrative separation, docked pay, fines, imprisonment, non-judicial proceedings, court-martial, and dishonorable discharge.

In case of MPO violations, the victim must contact military installation law enforcement immediately. If the family members feel threatened outside the military base, they should seek assistance from the local police. While civilian police may not be authorized to reinforce an MPO, they can take action for other crimes committed against the victims.


Soldier walking on field

Everyone has the right to live safely and with dignity. You should seek assistance if you are a victim or know of military family members experiencing domestic abuse. Any military office could direct you to the appropriate persons for a Military Protective Order to be issued accordingly.

Everyone should do their part to support the well-being and safety of military community members. Fortunately, there are stipulations in place to protect them from abuse. Even without a legal order, they can get protection.

Contact the necessary offices if you know anyone who needs to take action. You can get support from these organizations to help you get things done and justice to be served.


What does MPO stand for in the military?

An MPO means a Military Protective Order. This order is issued to military personnel who committed domestic abuse or sexual assault against a family member.

What does an MPO do?

An MPO protects family members who have become victims of sexual assault or domestic abuse. It grants certain protections so they can pursue further action in local courts.

How long does an MPO last?

There is no definite time duration for an MPO. This order can last as short as ten days or last indefinitely. This depends entirely on the officer who issued the order.

Who can issue a military protective order?

Only the commanding officer of the accused member may be allowed to issue an MPO. A new MPO must be served in case that person is stationed elsewhere.

Can you cancel military orders?

Only the officer who issued the MPO is authorized to cancel an MPO. However, you may seek the assistance of a military lawyer to hasten this process.

Attorney Roy Kaufmann serves as the Director of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service, located in Washington, D.C. As a recognized authority on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Mr. Kaufmann has published hundreds of articles and hosted many webinars. His teachings help law firms and businesses to remain compliant with the SCRA rules and regulations so as to avoid costly fines.