Who is eligible for a protection from abuse (PFA) order?
You can be eligible to file for a PFA order if you have been the victim of “domestic abuse,” as defined by Alabama law or if you have reasonable cause to believe that you are in immediate danger of becoming the victim of any act of abuse1and you have one of the following relationships to the abuser:
- You are related by marriage to the defendant, including a common law marriage;
- You had a former marriage or common law marriage with the defendant;
- You have a child in common;
- You are currently in a dating relationship with the abuser or your dating relationship ended within the last 12 months;
- You are a current or former household member of the abuser, which means you lived together while having a romantic or sexual relationship - or you can file against the relative of a current or former household member as long as that person also lived with you; or
- You are the parent, step-parent, child, or step-child of the abuser and you live or have lived together.2
Note: To file, you must be 18 or older or otherwise emancipated. A parent, legal guardian, “next friend” or the State Department of Human Resources may file on behalf of a minor or any person prevented by physical or mental incapacity from seeking a protection order.3 If you are filing a petition on behalf of a minor child who is living at home against the child’s parent, step-parent, or legal guardian, you must:
- have been an eyewitness to the specific acts of abuse or circumstances alleged in the petition;
- have affidavits from eyewitnesses of the specific acts of abuse or circumstances alleged in the petition; or
- have direct physical evidence of the specific acts of abuse or circumstances alleged in the petition.4
If you are filing on behalf of a minor child who is living at home against someone other than a parent, step-parent, or legal guardian of a minor child, you must have reasonable cause to believe that the minor child is a victim of the acts of abuse or circumstances alleged in the petition.4
1 Ala. Code § 30-5-5(a)(1)
2 Ala. Code § 30-5-2(3),(7)
3 Ala. Code § 30-5-5(a)
4 Ala. Code § 30-5-5(c)
Can a minor get a PFA order?
To file a petition for a protection order on your own, you must be 18 or older or otherwise emancipated. A parent, legal guardian, “next friend” or the State Department of Human Resources may file on behalf of a minor or any person prevented by physical or mental incapacity from seeking a protection order.1
1 Ala. Code § 30-5-5(a)
How much does it cost to get a PFA order?
There is no filing fee to get (or to serve) a protection from abuse order.1
1 Ala. Code § 30-5-5(g)
Can I get a protection from abuse order against a same-sex partner?
In Alabama, you may apply for a protection from abuse order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who is eligible for a protection from abuse (PFA) order? You must also be the victim of an act of domestic abuse, which is explained in What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Alabama?
You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.
Do I need a lawyer to get a PFA order?
No. You can represent yourself “pro se” (without a lawyer) throughout the process of seeking a protection from abuse order.1 Although you do not need a lawyer to file for a PFA, it may be to your advantage to seek legal counsel especially if the abuser has a lawyer, when child custody issues are at stake, or when during the court hearing for the final order. Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.
If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on the AL Finding a Lawyer page, or by calling the Alabama Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-650-6522.
In addition, the domestic violence organizations in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary forms. To find a local domestic violence organization, go to AL Local Programs. You will find contact information for courthouses on the AL Courthouse Locations page.
If you are going to be in court by yourself, go to our At the Hearing page for ways to prepare yourself for your court hearing.
1 Ala. Code § 30-5-5(e)
If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.
I am not eligible for a PFA order. What can I do?
If you are not eligible for a PFA order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Tips page. You will find a list of resources on our Places that Help page.
Even if you do not qualify for a PFA, the abuser may have committed a crime against you. For example, stalking, trespassing, harassment, assault, and communicating threats are against the law. You have the right to report the incidents to the police. If you are in immediate danger, you can call 911. You can read more about crimes in Alabama on our Crimes page.