Tips for Getting Through a Divorce With the Right Lawyer

What You Need to Know If Your Spouse Is Threatening to Falsely File a PFA Against You

When people in dangerous situations involving domestic violence ask for security, courts can provide protection from abuse (PFA) orders. But this system itself has a potential for being abused. A protection from abuse order is a restraining order, and it can be awarded against someone temporarily simply based on allegations. Of course, when the allegations are true, the plaintiff is protected. However, according to Stop Abuse and Violent Environments, 70% of restraining orders are probably not necessary. In fact, 1.5 million temporary restraining orders issued each year in the United States are "trivial or false."

Here's what you need to know if your spouse threatens to file a false PFA complaint against you.

A temporary order can be awarded by preponderance of the evidence.

In criminal court proceedings, the defendant has to be proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. But in a civil court proceeding, which is what filing for a PFA inolves, the plaintiff only has to prove that there is a preponderance of evidence. What this means is that if he or she proves or shows that there is more than a 50% chance that his or her allegations are true, then the judge will grant a temporary PFA.

If the judge does not feel that the plaintiff showed thorough preponderance of evidence that he or she needs protection from the alleged abuse, then there will not be a temporary order granted. However, there will still be a hearing date scheduled for a permanent PFA. At the court hearing, you will be given the opportunity to defend yourself (as the defendant) by disproving your spouse's allegations. It's important for you to hire a criminal defense lawyer for this hearing, not a divorce attorney.

A PFA can limit you and may change from a civil matter to a criminal one.

If your spouse does get a temporary protection from abuse order and you currently live together, you will not be allowed to be in your home for any reason. If your spouse includes your children on the PFA, you won't be able to see them, either. With a PFA you will also lose your 2nd Amendment right to have firearms.

If you violate the PFA, then your spouse can call the police to have you arrested. What's important to understand here is that your spouse only has to call the police and tell them that you've violated the PFA—even if you didn't. If this happens you will find yourself in a prison cell while you wait to speak with a judge to prove your innocence.

Take threats of filing for a PFA seriously and realize it may be time for divorce.

While you might hope that this level of vindictiveness is not something that your spouse would stoop to, disdain does bring out the ugly in some people. And you have to face the reality of how things are in your marriage when your spouse makes such threats. Therefore, if your spouse is threatening to file a PFA against you, it sounds like it may be time to hire a divorce attorney and move onward from the marriage. Of course, you may want to try attending marital counseling with your spouse before heading to divorce. However, it takes two to tango, and he or she may not be cooperative.

A PFA doesn't always end up being such a bad thing.

The one thing that is certain about the situation you are in is that you do not want to move out of your marital home on your own accord. The reason for this is because moving out can be considered abandonment of the marriage and may result in some repercussions in divorce court, such as losing your rights to belongings in the home and/or being required to pay spousal support.

However, being forced out of the home due to a PFA order will not be considered abandonment. So, on one hand a PFA can be horrible, but on the other hand it could be beneficial in getting you out of a bad living situation. Speak with a divorce attorney in your county to help you figure out whether or not a PFA would be good or bad in your situation regarding your marriage. Consult with a criminal attorney about what a PFA violation could do and how to avoid it.