What types of protection from abuse (PFA) orders are there? How long do they last?
There are two types of orders:
You can get a temporary ex parte protection from abuse order, also called an emergency order, if the judge believes it is necessary to protect you or your children from abuse or from the immediate and present danger of abuse. You can get an emergency protection from abuse (PFA) order without prior notice to the abuser to protect you from the time you file for the final order until your full court hearing can take place, usually within 10 days. However, by law, the judge can take three business days to decide whether or not to grant you an ex parte temporary order.1
If the judge denies your request for an emergency PFA order, you may still ask the judge to consider your PFA petition at a hearing where the abuser is present.
A final protection from abuse order can be issued at a hearing where the abuser is given prior notice of the hearing and has the right to be present. At the hearing, both you and the abuser will present evidence and tell your sides of the story to a judge. Once the hearing date is set for the final PFA order, you must attend that hearing or else your temporary order may expire and you will have to start the process over. If the abuser does not show up to that hearing, the judge may grant a final PFA order or s/he may set a new hearing date and extend the emergency PFA order so that it is effective until the new hearing date. Final PFA orders can be permanent without an expiration date unless the judge says otherwise, or unless the order is later changed (modified).2
1 Ala. Code § 30-5-6(a), (b)
2 Ala. Code § 30-5-7(d)(2)