If you are preparing to leave an abusive marriage but do not know where to begin, you are not alone. Countless people in Pennsylvania and elsewhere experience domestic violence at the hands of their spouses or intimate partners, and they may be afraid to leave. After making plans to leave your abusive spouse, you might consider seeking a protective order, which gives you certain legal protections while you begin the steps to a divorce.
According to FindLaw, your first step in obtaining a protective order is seeking it through the family law court. Your local law enforcement can assist you in the application process and tell you where to proceed next. You will be expected to provide testimony or evidence that abuse is occurring, so the judge will be able to decide if a temporary protection order is warranted.
When you receive your temporary protection order, your spouse will not be allowed to approach or contact you and your children while the order is in effect. You will be granted temporary physical custody of your children, as well as temporary child support. Your spouse may be restricted from entering your home and may be required to surrender any firearms he or she owns. You will be notified of a hearing to extend the protection order, usually within 10 days. During this hearing, you and your spouse will be allowed to tell your own sides of the story. The judge may then decide to grant a final protective order, which can be effective up to three years.
A protective order is not a guarantee that an abusive spouse will not approach you. However, violating the order comes with criminal penalties, including a fine and jail time. As you can see, a protective order can be a valuable tool in helping you escape abuse. This information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.
For more information, contact Louis Wm. Martini, attorney at law.