PFA in AL: Defending Against a Restraining Order
Allegations of domestic violence can derail your life. Whether in the midst of a divorce or otherwise involved in a domestic dispute, an allegation of domestic abuse can lead to the court putting restrictions on your behavior, who you can interact with, and even where you live. If you are hit with a restraining order based on false domestic violence allegations, you have the right to fight back, defending your rights and your freedom. Continue reading to learn about restraining orders and how to mount a proper defense. If you are the target of a restraining order in Guntersville, Huntsville, or the surrounding areas, call a zealous Alabama family law attorney.
What Can a Restraining Order Do?
An order of protection, also called a “protective order” or a “restraining order,” is a court order issued pursuant to the Protection from Abuse Act (PFA). Restraining orders are meant to protect people from actual or threatened harassment or physical violence. Alabama judges have the authority to issue protective orders that can do any of the following:
- Restrict the ability of the alleged abuser to go to the petitioner’s home, school, or place of work
- Prevent the alleged abuser from contacting the petitioner or their family members
- Prevent the alleged abuser from being near children, school, or daycare centers
- Force the alleged abuser to move out of their own home that they share with the petitioner
- Remove children from the custody of the alleged abuser and limit or eliminate visitation rights
Restraining orders not only disrupt your life; they can also be damaging to your personal and professional reputation. A restraining order becomes part of the public record, meaning that anyone who runs a public record search online in the State of Alabama can find out about the case and the order. Moreover, if a protective order is issued against you, it could be used as evidence in a current or subsequent custody dispute to limit or revoke your parental rights.
How Can I Defend Against a Restraining Order?
A petitioner seeking a restraining order must prove the need for the order in court. The petitioner can request a temporary restraining order at the time they initially make their petition, but whether a more long-term order will be put in place is a matter for the judge to decide. The petitioner must serve the alleged abuser with a copy of the petition for protection as well as the temporary order. The court will then set a hearing date, usually for a date within two weeks; the temporary protection order is only good for 14 days.
At the hearing the court will hear evidence, witness testimony, and arguments and render a decision regarding whether the protection order should be issued. The respective parties can take the stand and testify as to facts relevant to the requested protective order. If you are accused of domestic violence perpetrated against your partner or your child, you have the right to take the stand and present your side of the story. Your attorney can present evidence and witnesses to support the falsehood of the allegations and provide legal arguments to justify why a restraining order is not necessary.
If you are accused of domestic violence or otherwise face the prospect of a PFA restraining order, it’s imperative that you get a seasoned Alabama family law attorney on your side as soon as possible to represent you.