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. 


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:

  • Arson
  • Assault
  • Attempt
  • Child Abuse
  • Criminal Coercion
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Harassment
  • Kidnapping
  • Menacing
  • Reckless Endangerment
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Stalking
  • Theft
  • 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


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.