Domestic violence is an unfortunate and terrible part of a surprising number of relationships. In fact, some nationwide estimates claim that one out of every four women in America will be the victim of some form of domestic violence. The prevalence of abuse, coupled with the physical, mental, and emotional consequences of abuse, has led Kansas lawmakers (like those around the country) to permit victims of abuse to seek and obtain protective orders against their abusers. These protective orders are meant to provide temporary respite and relief to the abuse victim, allowing him or her an opportunity to escape the abusive situation. In order to accomplish this goal, a victim is able to obtain a temporary protective order without the presence of the abuser and upon a minimal showing that the person requesting the order meets the legal requirements to obtain the order.
What some Kansans may not realize is that there are actually two types of protective orders: a protection from abuse order (PFA) and a protection from stalking (PFS) order. Knowing which order to request can not only save you time and get you the legal protection you need quicker, it can prevent you from enduring embarrassing dismissals of your requests for protective orders.
Protection from Abuse Orders: Protection Against Abusive “Household” Members
The key distinction between a PFA and a PFS has to do with the person against whom the order is sought. For a PFA, there must be an intimate or “household”-type relationship between the victim and his or her abuser. This generally means:
- People who lived together or are presently living together;
- People who are dating one another or who dated one another in the past; and/or
- People who have a child in common.
(Of course, individuals who are married or who were married fit the definition of “household” members and intimate partners.) When requesting a PFA, you will be asked to describe the nature of the relationship between you and the abuser. If it is not one of the recognized relationships, your petition for a protective order may be dismissed.
Protection from Stalking Orders: Protection Where There is a “Course of Conduct”
If you and your abuser do not have the requisite relationship to qualify for a PFA, you may seek protection under a PFS order. However, unlike a PFA (which can be granted for physical orverbal abuse or where the victim is in imminent fear of abuse), a PFS will not be granted unless you show the court that the abuser has engaged in a “course of conduct” that reasonably puts you in fear for your safety. A “course of conduct” must be at least two or more separate incidents that, when taken together, show that the abuser’s intent is to harass or threaten you.
For example, a threatening e-mail or driving by your house at night on one occasion by itself will not be sufficient to qualify as a “course of conduct.” However, sending a threatening e-mail to you and then driving by your house the next day may meet the “course of conduct” requirement. Although an attorney’s assistance is not needed to obtain a PFS, an attorney can review your situation and help you determine if the facts of your case establish a “course of conduct.”
The Weber Law Office is a Wichita-based family law firm that assists Kansas residents with a variety of legal issues, including obtaining and enforcing protective orders. Contact our Wichita Family law Attorney today at (316) 265-7802 and allow us to utilize our knowledge and experience to assist you in obtaining the legal relief and remedies you need.