Denise Williams (plaintiff) had been separated from her husband, Edward Williams (defendant), for approximately five months when Edward entered the residence that Denise shared with their child and physically beat Denise. Denise filed a petition for an ex parte order of protection under Missouri’s Adult Abuse Act (the Act). The Act was adopted to address the increasing number of incidents of domestic violence and the need to protect the victims. An adult who was abused by a former adult member of the household could petition the court for relief, namely by seeking either an ex parte order or a protective order that could be issued after notice and a hearing. At a hearing on Denise’s petition, the trial court concluded that Edward was a former adult member of the household whose actions constituted abuse. However, the court held that the Act was unconstitutional, because the Act violated the due process rights of the individual subjected to the ex parte order. The trial court dismissed the petition, and Denise appealed. In a separate action, Denise filed a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the trial court to issue an order of protection, an order restraining Edward from entering her dwelling, and a temporary order of custody of their minor child. The appeal and the mandamus action were consolidated by the Supreme Court of Missouri for review.