Divorces and child custody cases can involve accusations of domestic violence. Alabama’s Protection from Abuse Act (Alabama Code § 30-5-1 et seq.) allows a victim of domestic abuse to file a petition with the court requesting protection from the alleged abuser. A PFA is granted ex parte, meaning that the alleged abuser will not be notified about the petition until a PFA has been entered by the court.
DEFINING DOMESTIC ABUSE
The Protection from Abuse Act defines domestic violence on the basis of the underlying crime committed against the victim. Alabama Code § 30-5-2(1) lists the following crimes that may constitute domestic violence for the purposes of a PFA:
- Child Abuse
- Criminal Coercion
- Criminal Trespass
- Reckless Endangerment
- Sexual Abuse
- Unlawful Imprisonment.
In order to get a PFA, the victim must have a qualifying relationships with the abuser. These relationships include:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Child in common
- Dating relationship
- Victim lived with the defendant and (1) had an affectionate or sexual relationship with the defendant or (2) was related to another person living in the home who had such a relationship
WHAT CAN THE COURT DO?
Depending on the allegations made in the initial petition, the court can grant the following relief:
- Order the defendant to cease contacting the victim altogether
- Order the defendant to stay 300 or more feet away from the victim’s home, place of employment, or school
- When the parties share a child, the court can award temporary custody of that child to the victim and order the defendant to pay child support and/or refrain from contacting the child until a hearing can be held
- Award the victim sole temporary possession of a shared residence, an automobile, or personal effects
- Prohibit the defendant from transferring, concealing, encumbering, or otherwise disposing of property that is mutually owned by the victim and the defendant
- Order the defendant to surrender all firearms.
Once the defendant has been served with the PFA and the court has held a hearing, the court can make the temporary relief permanent or specify a time for it to remain in effect.
If you have been served with a PFA order or are interested in filing a petition, contact us today at (205) 581-9790 for help.