What is a protection from abuse order (PFA)?
A protection from abuse order is also called a restraining order. It is a paper which is signed by a judge and tells the abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences. It offers civil legal protection from domestic violence.
What is the legal definition of abuse in Kansas?
This section defines abuse (domestic violence) for the purposes of getting a protection from abuse order. ”Abuse” means any of these acts against an intimate partner or household member:
- Causing bodily injury or attempting to cause bodily injury;
- Physically threatening someone with immediate bodily injury;
- Engaging in any sexual contact or attempting to do so without consent or when the victim is incapable of giving consent; or
- Engaging in sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a minor under 16 years of age who is not the spouse of the offender.1
1 Kan. Stat. § 60-3102(a)
What types of orders are there? How long do they last?
There are three types of protection from abuse orders in Kansas:
Emergency Protection from Abuse Order:
You can request this type of order from a local law enforcement officer when you need immediate protection and the court is closed. The order would be signed by a district court judge who is on call. The judge must believe there is an immediate and present danger of abuse to you or your minor child. The emergency order is valid only until 5 pm on the next business day that the courthouse is open. You can then apply for a protection from abuse order at the courthouse on that day (the next day that the court is open).1
Temporary Protection from Abuse Order:
You can file for a temporary ex parte order when you file your petition for a protection from abuse order in district court. This type of order can be granted without prior notice to the abuser and without the abuser appearing in court. If a judge finds that you or your family are in immediate danger, s/he can grant a temporary ex parte order, which will last until your final hearing that will usually take place within 21 days.2
Final Protection from Abuse Order:
This type of order is awarded by a judge only after a final hearing in court in which you and the abuser each have an opportunity to present evidence and tell your different sides of the story. A final protection from abuse order lasts for up to one year, but may be extended for one year, two years, or even for the lifetime of the abuser if certain conditions are met.3 For more information on extending an order, see How do I change or extend my order?
1 Kan. Stat. § 60-3105(a), (b)
2 Kan. Stat. § 60-3106
3 Kan. Stat. § 60-3107(e)
What protections can I get in a protection from abuse order?
A protection from abuse order can:
- order the abuser not to abuse, molest (bother) or interfere with the privacy or rights of you or your children;
- order the abuser to be excluded from (leave) your shared home and give you possession of the home1 (unless you are not married to the abuser and s/he owns the home, then this will not be ordered)2;
- order the abuser to not cancel utility service to the home for 60 days;
- require the abuser to provide alternate housing for you and your children;
- order the police to remove the abuser from the home and help you return to the home;
- decide the possession of shared personal property including a car and household goods, and order law enforcement to help get that property, if necessary;
- establish temporary custody and visitation rights of your children;
- order child support and, if you are married, spousal support - both of these can last up to 1 year (or 2 years if you file to extend it);
- require the abuser to seek batterers’ counseling;
- order either you or the abuser to pay the other’s attorney’s fees; and/or
- order the abuser to do anything else the judge decides is necessary to protect you and your children.1 (Be sure to ask for anything else you think is important.)
1 Kan. Stat. § 60-3107(a)
2 Kan. Stat. § 60-3107(d)
What is a mutual order and how can it hurt me?
A “mutual” order of protection prohibits BOTH parties from abusing, molesting, or interfering with the privacy or rights of each other. It may order that BOTH parties not contact each other.
If you file for a PFA and the defendant (the abuser) files and serves you with a counter-petition saying that you have abused him/her, there are generally two ways in which mutual order may be issued:
- the judge would hold a hearing where both you and the abuser present evidence; the judge must believe that you both were primary aggressors and neither of you acted in self-defense; or
- If you agree or consent to a mutual order without having a hearing.1
Many times the judges or lawyers will encourage people to consent to an order against them using the rationale that “if you do not plan on violating the order, it shouldn’t bother you to have an order against you.” However, this way of thinking can be dangerous. If the abuser gets the restraining order, s/he can easily try to falsely report a violation or trick you into violating the order so that you get arrested, which can have consequences on future custody cases, restraining order cases, or immigration matters. A judge cannot force you to consent, however. You have the right to a hearing where you can defend yourself and then the judge will have to decide if the abuser proved his/her case against you.
If a counter-petition is filed against you or if you are urged to consent to a mutual order, think seriously about getting an attorney to help you. Go to our KS Finding a Lawyer page.
1 Kan. Stat. § 60-3107(b)
Where can I file for a protection from abuse order?
You can file a protection from abuse order in any district court in the state.1
1 Kan. Stat. § 60-3103
If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?
When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.
There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:
- The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
- One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
- If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.
However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.
You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.
Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.