CAN I FILE A COUNTER-PETITION?
Yes, it is possible to file a counter-petition for Protection from Abuse or Protection from Stalking. In order to be official, a counter-petition must be filed with the district court and cannot simply be raised as a defense during the course of the case or at trial. The Defendant filing the counter-petition must include the necessary information to meet the elements of a PFA or a PFS just as the initial filer did. Then, the Defendant will bear the same burden of proof at trial of preponderance of the evidence if he or she wants the judge to enter a final order against the plaintiff.
If you are seeking to be protected or cease all contact with your accuser, filing a counter-petition is not your only option. It is possible to enter into a mutual no contact order or other similar arrangement. These agreements can be generic and simply use the language of a normal PFA or PFS and apply to both parties. Or these agreements can be narrowly tailored to meet with the specific facts and circumstances of a case. These are oftentimes advantageous in certain cases or with certain parties. Doing this can allow for necessary contact only or it can be done to avoid some of the consequences of a traditional PFA/PFS like the loss of the right to own or possess a firearm or the threat of criminal prosecution.
Before filing a counter-petition or going forward with any hearings in your PFA or PFS case, it is always best to sit down with an attorney and thoroughly discuss all of your options. After hearing about the specific facts of your case, understanding the relationship between the parties, and knowing your priorities, your attorney will be able to tell you what options you have available to you and advise you accordingly. Then you can make an informed decision and work with your attorney to make it happen.