How Might a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order Affect a Family Law Case?
They’re separate proceedings. The restraining order cases, the Protection from Abuse cases, family law cases, divorce, parental rights cases, probate cases on occasion, and criminal cases all proceed on a separate track. They’re actually separate cases. The Protection from Abuse actions are very related and have a profound impact on family cases because they’re often the first thing that happens in a case. They often have the possibility, and that can be a good thing, or the danger of laying out fairly restrictive contact with children, prohibiting contact with spouses, ex-spouses. Since they come about often without the defendant’s knowledge or input, they are often the beginning of a family law case.
The family court is authorized to amend the contact provisions with regard to children in their separate family case, be it a divorce or a parental rights case. The reason behind that is the family court is supposed to take a longer view and try and determine what’s in the best interest of the children over a longer span of time. They take quite a bit longer to get through. The court is generally considered to have more information about what is in the child’s best interests, whereas the Protection from Abuse cases are relatively brief proceedings where the protection of the person who brought the action and their children are paramount.
The family court often modifies the contact schedule with regard to the children, but if the parties want to change the contact schedule, they have to go back to the Protection from Abuse court and amend those provisions. You always have to remember there are two sometimes three different proceedings pending, that you have to make changes in each one if there are changes that are happening.