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Protection Orders May Include Temporary Custody

A parent can request short-term custody relief in a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. Before making a decision, a judge must decide if custody with the requesting parent is in the best interests of the child. The judge will examine the safety of the child and the parent to make this decision. Custody in a PFA order will be granted based on the safety needs of the child and the parent.

A judge may order any "relief" or custody arrangements to try to reduce the threat of harm to the child or parent. For example, the order may include supervised visitation (where someone else is present during the other parent's visits with the child) or supervised exchange (where the parents have no direct contact during transfer of the child for visits). The judge may also give the requesting parent sole legal and physical custody if the threat of harm to the child or parent is severe.

A PFA order is an important tool for victim safety. It is not, however, a substitute for formal custody proceedings. Custody relief in a PFA order is short-term; it expires when the order expires. It may be crucial for a domestic violence victim's long-term safety to seek a more permanent custody order. The local domestic violence program offers help with long-term safety planning for domestic violence victims and their children.

The main custody page has more information and helpful legal terms about custody.

PCADV Works to Increase Custody Options and Safety

  • PCADV's member programs work in every county to provide emergency shelter, legal options and other services to help domestic violence victims secure safety and justice. 
  • PCADV legal department attorneys provide technical assistance to advocates and attorneys helping domestic violence victims who are dealing with custody-related legal issues.
  • PCADV offers training about custody, Protection from Abuse, and working with families affected by domestic violence.
  • PCADV provides technical support to community leaders to develop Supervised Visitation Centers in their counties. 

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