Area of Law:
Domestic violence is a particularly pervasive problem because it can go on regularly within the four walls of the home, which is supposed to be a safe haven from all the dangers of the outside world. Each state has its own remedies and methods of obtaining a solution; however, there is a similar general process that most states follow when dealing with domestic violence.
Protection From Abuse Order
Alabama law defines abuse as any of the following: assault, child abuse, harassment, kidnapping, reckless endangerment, sexual abuse, stalking, theft, trespassing, unlawful imprisonment, as well as any attempts to commit any of the aforementioned crimes. Under Alabama law, in order for an abuse victim to be considered a victim of domestic abuse, a “family or household member” must inflict this abuse.
Alabama provides for a protection from abuse order for victims of domestic abuse. If you are in immediate danger, the first step is to file for an emergency protection from abuse order. This order will protect you from the time you file up until the hearing for the final permanent protection from abuse order, which usually occurs 14 days after filing. At the hearing, the judge will issue an emergency protection from abuse order if he or she decides that it is necessary to protect you or your children from abuse.
The hearing for your permanent protection from abuse order will be held at a time that allows the court to give notice of the hearing to the alleged abuser, as he or she has the right to be present. You will each be given a chance to tell your sides of the story, and the judge will decide whether or not to grant the permanent protection from abuse order. If he or she grants the order, then it will be in effect for up to a year. Of course, you may apply to have your order extended beyond that if it is necessary for your protection.
An emergency protection from abuse order will generally grant you temporary custody of your children, a police escort to accompany you to your home so you can get your children, and anything else the judge deems necessary to protect you and your children. The judge will also order the alleged abuser to stop threatening, harassing, and contacting you. Furthermore, the alleged abuser will be ordered to stay away from your home, workplace, and school, as well as the workplace and school of your children. Even if the alleged abuser owns the home, he or she may be ordered to leave. He or she will also likely be ordered not to sell or destroy any joint property.
If, after your hearing, you are granted a permanent protection from abuse order, you will probably be granted all of the protections of an emergency protection from abuse order. In addition to these protections, you may be granted possession of the family home, as well as payments for child support or spousal support. The alleged abuser may have to pay attorney’s fees as well. Depending on the nature of the abuse, the alleged abuser may be granted supervised or unsupervised visitation with the children.
Under federal law, anyone against whom a permanent protection from abuse order is granted may not purchase a gun. You may also request that the judge order that the alleged abuser forfeit any firearms and ammo he or she currently owns.
Finding Domestic Violence Resources
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233 and is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and in more than 100 languages. This hotline can help you find nearby domestic violence shelters, emergency shelters, legal help, and social service programs.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has put together a database of national organizations that can help victims of domestic violence get relief from their abuser.
A list of shelters in Alabama along with the counties they serve can be found here.