If a final order is entered following a hearing, that order is in effect immediately and it lasts for one year from that date. The terms from that order and its duration are then set unless one of three things happen:
- A party successfully appeals the final order to the Court of Appeals;
- A party moves to modify the final order and the district court grants modification; or
- Within the timelines allowed by statute, a party files for an extension of the final order.
Appealing a final PFA or PFS order is an extremely difficult task. In Jordan v. Jordan, the Kansas Court of Appeals noted that the trial court is given extreme deference in making its determination when issuing final orders of protection. Because of this deference, reversing the decision is virtually unheard of.
A final PFA order can be modified if a defendant can show there is a change in circumstances which justifies such modification. This means the party seeking a change needs to show more than simply saying they think the judge got it all wrong. Circumstances that could justify modification include completing any programs or reaching an agreement with the plaintiff to modify the terms. The court will hold a modification hearing and at that hearing the party seeking modification carries the burden to prove the circumstances have changed to justify modifying the order.
Modification is never guaranteed and is not very common. That is why it is imperative that during the initial PFA proceedings, you work to either fight the order or to come to some sort of mutual agreement that is easier to live with and change if necessary.
Finally, while the order that is issued on the date of the final hearing will only last for one year from that date, the law allows for extensions of the final order for one year. Further extension is then allowed for an additional two years or lifetime.
In order to get an extension of the final order, the protected party must file a timely, certified motion with the court requesting the extension. Timely means that you must file the motion with the clerk of the district court prior to the end of the initial order. A copy of the motion must then be mailed to the defendant. The court may then grant an extension of one additional year if the court finds good cause and that an extension is reasonably necessary for the protection of the plaintiff. In other words, a court can give an extension at its own discretion, and not after a new finding of the preponderance of the evidence.
A plaintiff can also file a timely and verified motion requesting an extension of two years or up to the lifetime of the defendant. In order to receive this longer extension, the timely and verified motion must be personally served on the defendant and then the matter must be set for a hearing. Further, the plaintiff must show one of the following:
- The defendant violated the protective order;
- The defendant has previously violated a protective order; or
- The defendant has been convicted of a person felony committed against the plaintiff or any member of the plaintiff’s household.
At the hearing, the defendant has the opportunity to present evidence and cross-examine the plaintiff’s witnesses. If the court, upon hearing all of the evidence, determines by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant did in fact commit one of the three actions listed above, then the extension of two years to lifetime may be granted. Because this hearing could result in permenant, life altering ramifications on your personal life and your rights, it is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately if you have been served with papers for such a hearing.