Getting A Protection From Abuse Order When You Have Children
Protection orders are a lifeline for those suffering from domestic violence. These orders can instruct your violent spouse to stay away from you and your family and turn over any firearms they possess or own. But what happens if you have children together? Many people stay in abusive marriages solely for the children, typically because they are afraid that they will lose custody if they leave.
Helpfully, Pennsylvania law allows a judge to issue child custody and support orders at the same time as the protection order. This will allow concerned mothers or fathers to leave an abusive situation and not lose contact with their children.
How Protection Orders Work in Pennsylvania
The state’s Protection from Abuse Act contains the law on getting protection orders (also called restraining orders) in situations of family abuse. If you qualify for an order, you can request one by submitting a petition with the Family Division of your local court.
Initially, victims of abuse will receive a temporary order. This is only good for 10 days, when a final hearing will be held in front of a judge. Your spouse gets to offer testimony and make a case at the final hearing, though temporary orders are usually issued without a hearing.
A judge can include custody provisions in a temporary as well as a final order of protection. So if you want custody of the children, you should request it in your petition. Also remember to mention any abuse or neglect of your children committed by your spouse.
How Judges Decide Custody
If a judge grants a temporary protection order, then he or she might automatically give you custody simply to maintain the status quo. However, a judge will take a closer look at child custody during a hearing for a final order. Since final orders can last for up to three years, a well-reasoned decision is warranted.
In particular, a judge will consider whether your children were subjected to abuse and what is in their best interest. The best interest analysis is essentially the same standard used in divorce and considers factors such as:
- Who has performed most parental duties?
- Which parent is more likely to provide for the child’s needs going forward?
- Which parent is more likely to support the child’s relationship with the other parent?
- The child’s need for stability
This is an important hearing. Although anyone can request a protection order without the help of a Media family lawyer, there is a lot on the line, so legal assistance is beneficial.
Don’t Forget Child Support
You should also request child support so that you do not suffer the financial burden of taking care of your children alone. A judge can also include an order for child support as part of the protection from abuse order. The state can also make sure that the money is deducted from your spouse’s paycheck so that you receive it.
Contact Our Delaware County Child Custody Attorney
No one should request a protection from abuse order alone. Call the Media child custody lawyers at Barbara Flum Stein & Associates today to learn more about how we can help.