Once the court has issued a Protection from Abuse Order, the next question will likely deal with the duration of the limitations. That question can depend on a number of things. These include the exact type of order, the prohibited conduct, and any further court actions. Below is an outline of what to expect concerning how long an order will remain in effect.
Emergency And Temporary Orders
Prior to the hearing for the order, a court may issue an emergency order, temporary order, or both. An emergency order lasts only until the next business day at 5:00 PM. The purpose of the emergency order is to allow the victim of abuse to seek a temporary order. A temporary order stays in effect until the time the hearing begins. Hearings must be held within 21 days of filing, meaning the temporary orders are generally only three weeks. If the hearing is postponed, the temporary order may be extended as well.
Final PFA/PFS Orders
Once the court conducts the hearing to determine whether the order should be issued, it will set a time frame for the order to remain in effect. Most of the time, a final PFA or PFS order will last for one year from the date of the final hearing. However, the judge can set any time frame, so long as it does not exceed one year. As the expiration date approaches, the protected party can request an extension of the final order for an additional year. As noted in Jordan v. Jordan, this decision is entirely up to the trial court and will rarely be overturned on appeal. Finally, under other circumstances, an extension of two years or a lifetime order can be issued. Our article on extension explains this process and the findings that must be made in greater detail.
Sometimes circumstances change. In these cases, the protected party, defendant, or both may wish to alter the duration or terms of the order. The court will only consider altering the order under Section 60-3107(f) when both parties participate in the modification hearing. Further, the PFA or PFS Order can only be modified in such a hearing. Even if a divorce proceeding attempts to grant custody of a protected child to the defendant, the PFA or PFS Order will prevail. Any divorce proceedings can be combined with the modification (or original hearing) of the order to simplify things, however. The case law on what circumstances have been found appropriate is lacking, but some likely instances include reconciliation between the protected party and defendant, divorce proceedings that are combined with the modification, or a satisfactory completion of anger management or substance abuse treatment by the defendant.
PFA or PFS Orders are generally temporary measures, rather than long-term family modifications such as custody orders. Even considering this, they can last up to a year and be extended well beyond that in appropriate circumstances. It is important to contact capable of counsel if the order’s expiration date is approaching and you feel additional time is necessary. Alternatively, when a defendant feels he or she has proven that order is unnecessary, the order can be modified to reflect these changed circumstances. Either way, an experienced attorney is essential to understanding what actions are needed to accomplish your needs concerning PFA or PFS Orders.