How can a protection order protect you and your children?

Escaping an abusive relationship can be complicated and dangerous. Obtaining a protective order may help.

Every day in Pennsylvania and across the country, people are abused physically or emotionally by someone they should be able to trust. In some cases, their lives are put in danger.

Domestic violence is particularly harmful to children. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the long-term effects of witnessing or experiencing abuse may impact children for life. Those who were victimized as children have a much higher chance of becoming victims or abusers in adulthood. Therefore, it is imperative to protect children by getting them away from their abuser. Unfortunately, ending a marriage is not easy when abuse is a factor. Getting a protective order is an important step in finding safety.

How a protection order works

How exactly does this work? According to WomensLaw.org, a protection from abuse order, or protective order, gives victims of abuse certain legal rights to keep them from being victimized further. There are several different types of protective orders, which may be granted at different times during a domestic dispute.

For example, a wife may have decided she's had enough of the abuse after another violent incident, which happened to be near midnight. Courthouses would be closed during this time, but she may be able to obtain an emergency order by calling 911 or the police department. This order will only be valid until the next business day. After that, she may seek a temporary protective order by applying in court. This type of order may be granted by a judge without the abuser present, and is based on a victim's testimony and evidence of abuse.

A hearing will be scheduled for the accused abuser to present his or her case. Temporary protective orders typically only last six months to a year. If necessary, victims may seek a permanent order based on solid evidence of abuse.

Protective orders may provide the following benefits to victims:

  • Prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim and minor children or approaching them at home, school or work
  • Remove the abuser from the home
  • Give temporary custody to the parent who obtained the order
  • Remove weapons from the abuser's possession
  • Provide a sense of empowerment and hope to the victim

A protective order is just one step in several that a victim should take to get away from an abuser. For example, it is often beneficial to have an escape plan before leaving. Law enforcement may be able to help during these steps, as well as a Pennsylvania attorney with experience in domestic violence cases.