Domestic violence is a serious problem throughout the entire country. Statistics show that almost 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner. If you add this figure up, that is more than 10 million men and women being abused every year. Domestic violence affects, on average, one in four women and one in nine men. It is important to talk about these statistics to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding domestic violence. Those who are abused by an intimate partner often find it difficult to leave the situation for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons could be the lack of knowledge of options and protections available to them to combat the situation.
A vital protection that is offered in the state of Alabama for those who are a victim of domestic violence is an order of protection being granted on their behalf. An order of protection, sometimes called a protective order or no contact restraining order, is a legal tool available that essentially makes it so that your abusive partner can have no contact with you whatsoever. The individual whom the order is against is required to follow certain conditions, outlined in the order, or otherwise face criminal penalties, including incarceration.
The order of protection centered around letting the abusive partner have no contact with you is among the most common and will be the focus of this discussion because of its benefits to domestic violence survivors. Any adult in the state of Alabama is permitted to request the protective order for themselves, but also on behalf of minor children. Intimate partner is not limited just to a romantic partner, but can include another family member or member of the household who is being abusive.
It is not as simple as saying you want a protective order for one to be granted. There is a legal process for obtaining the order. The process starts with a petition for protection from abuse (PFA). You attorney will file this petition with the court. Included in the petition is your account of the situation and any history of abuse. It is important to be as specific as possible in this description so that an accurate portrait of the situation is painted. You want to give as many details as possible in an effort to obtain an order of protection. In addition to including information about the history of abuse and current abuse, providing information about the abusers vehicle, address, employer, any weapons that he or she owns, use of drugs of alcohol, and even a photo can be useful.
If the order of protection is an emergency situation and needs to be granted as soon as possible, it is possible for the order to be heard “ex parte.” This means that the judge will hear the case and make a determination without the other party being notified. These emergency, ex parte orders can be extremely useful in cases of violence and when someone is in immediate danger. However, the other party does have the right to present his or her case in court and must eventually be notified. If the order is granted, the abuser will be served and notified of the order and made aware of a court date in the future to discuss extending the order past the emergency term.
At the final hearing, both sides are present to present their evidence and have their day in court. In the case of non-emergencies, this hearing is usually held within 10 days of the initial filing of the petition.
Each protective order can contain a variety of conditions that are unique to the situation. The following are common conditions often contained in a protective order:
- No physical contact between the abuser and the survivor
- The abuser is required to remain a certain distance away for the survivor at all times
- The abuser is not permitted to enter the home or residence of the survivor, even if it was previously a shared home
- The abuser cannot purchase, or even possess, a firearm or other weapon
- No marital property can be sold
- Temporary child custody arrangements
The family law attorneys at Massey, Stotser & Nichols, PC are here for you if you are a victim of domestic violence. We know how hard it is to leave an abusive situation and want to get you every protection afforded to you under Alabama law, including a protective order to keep the abuser away from you. Contact us today for a consultation.