Step 1: Get the necessary forms and fill them out.
You can find the forms that you will need from the district court clerk at the courthouse, but you may want to find them before you go and fill them out at home or with an advocate from a domestic violence or sexual assault program. You will find links to forms online on the KS Download Court Forms page. Most shelters and other domestic violence or sexual assault organizations can provide support for you while you fill out these papers and go to court. Go to our Places that Help page to find an organization in your area.
On the petition, you will be the “plaintiff” and the abuser will be the “defendant.” You will write about the incidents of violence, using specific language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible. In the petition, you can also check off the box to get a temporary, ex parte order. A judge can grant a temporary order if s/he feels that you or your family are in immediate harm. The abuser does not have to be with you or be told you are asking the judge for a temporary order, but, the abuser will learn of the temporary order when the order is served and the petition is set for hearing.
Note: The application must be verified, which means you might have to sign it in front of the court clerk or a notary. Check with the court clerk before signing your papers.
You will also need to give a safe mailing address and phone number in case the court needs to contact you. If you are staying at a shelter, give a post office box, not the street address. If you do not have a safe address, ask the clerk how you can keep your address confidential.
Step 2: A judge will review your petition.
When you have filed the forms with the clerk of court, s/he will bring your petition to a judge for review.
If you are in immediate danger and need the protection of a temporary order, you may be required to meet the judge and explain why you think the temporary order is necessary. The abuser will not be present for this hearing.
If the judge believes you or your child are in serious and immediate danger, s/he may give you temporary order which is good for until your full court hearing.
Whether the judge grants you a temporary order or not, you will be given a court date for a full court “hearing” usually within 21 days. This hearing will be in front of a judge at the time shown on the Notice of Hearing. “Notice of the Hearing” is the document that tells the defendant when and where to appear for the full court hearing. At this hearing, both parties will have a chance to explain your sides to the judge.
Step 3: Service of process
The abuser must be served with a notice of hearing and with any PFA orders that a judge has granted you. If the abuser does not receive notice, the hearing will be rescheduled. If this happens, be sure to request that your temporary order be extended until the full hearing can take place.
The court may send copies of the order and notice of hearing to the sheriff, and then law enforcement personnel will serve the abuser.
In addition, you may have to provide some contact information for the defendant/abuser so the police or sheriff can find him/her such as his/her address, birthdate, etc. Do not try to serve the abuser yourself.
You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?
Step 4: The protection from abuse order hearing
On the day of the hearing, you must go to the hearing to ask to have your temporary order (usually good for up to 21 days) turned into a final PFA order, which can last for up to 1 year.1
If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process all over again. If you do not show up at the hearing it may be harder for you to be granted an order in the future.
If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may enter a “default” order, granting you what you requested in your petition. The judge may also decide to postpone the date of the hearing in order to be able to hear testimony from the abuser. If the judge postpones the hearing (a continuance), then be sure to have your temporary order extended until that time.
You may wish to hire a lawyer to help with your case, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If the abuser shows up with a lawyer, you can ask the judge for a “continuance” (a later court date) so that you have time to find a lawyer. Go to KS Places that Help to find help in your area.
You can also read through the At the Hearing section for ways you can show the judge that you were abused - this may be especially helpful if you are representing yourself. You can learn more about the court system in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section.
1 Kan. Stat. § 60-3107(e)