WOOLDRIDGE v. ZIMMERER, 2009-CA-001786-ME
Issue: Jurisdiction to Extend Previously-Issued DVO
Published: Vacated and Remanded with Instructions to Dismiss
Wooldridge appealed from FC order extending DVO for an additional three years, contending FC did not have jurisdiction to do so as original term of DVO had expired at time of court’s order.
On August 17, 2006, Zimmerer filed a DV petition against Wooldridge and, after hearing, FC entered a DVO, which was effective until August 28, 2009. On August 27, 2009, Zimmerer filed another DV petition against Wooldridge. An EPO was entered, which was effective until September 8, 2009, the date of hearing. After both parties testified, FC concluded that Zimmerer’s new allegations were insufficient for the entry of a 2nd DVO. FC ordered original DVO to be extended for another 3 years from the date the original order expired, holding that, since Zimmerer had filed a new petition for another DVO prior to the expiration of the original DVO, FC still had jurisdiction. FC held that the “petition” could be viewed as a motion to extend the current DVO.
CA held that although a DVO can be reissued even where no additional violence or abuse had occurred during the pendency of the DVO, that is an evidentiary issue, not a jurisdictional issue as was presented in this case. Even though proof is presented to a court that a DVO could be reissued, the court must still have jurisdiction to extend an order. Because she filed a petition for another DVO, Zimmerer’s original DVO still expired on August 28, 2009. On that date, she no longer was protected by the DVO but was under the protection of the newly issued EPO. Unfortunately for Zimmerer, at EPO/DVO hearing FC held that the allegations in the EPO were not sufficient for the granting of another DVO.
CA rejected Zimmerer’s argument that the filed petition was intended as a motion to extend the 2006 order, holding that the DVO statutes establish the jurisdictional prerequisites for extending a DVO and these jurisdictional parameters must be maintained to maintain the efficacy of these statutes. FC does not have the authority to re-characterize a “petition” for a DVO as a motion for an extension of a DVO.