Protection From Abuse Cases (PFA)
A protection from abuse order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons who you have a child in common with. The order is a document that is signed by a Judge, ordering that the abuse stop or the abuser will face serious legal consequences. A protection from an abuse petition can be filed by both male and female victims.
A petition for a protection from abuse order must be filed with the Court of Common Pleas in the county where you live (permanently or temporarily) or work, in any county where the abuser can be served (i.e., where he lives or works), or in the county where the abuse took place. However, if you plan to ask the judge to remove the abuser from the home you share, you MUST file the petition in the county where your home is located.
Your petition must include the allegations of abuse. In Pennsylvania, if there has been actual or threatened physical abuse including the placing of another in reasonable fear of bodily injury, a protection from abuse (PFA) order may be entered by the court. A judge is quickly presented with the petition for review and if the judge believes that you or your children are in immediate danger, he/she will sign a temporary order. This order will stay in effect until the full hearing is concluded (within ten business days).
At the hearing, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant has committed acts of domestic abuse against her/him or her/his children. The Plaintiff must also convince the judge that she/he needs the protection asked for in the petition. The defendant will have an opportunity to defend the accusations made against him/her at the hearing. The judge will make a decision based on the evidence presented, at which time a final PFA will be granted or the PFA will be dismissed.
A PFA can forcibly remove the offending party from a household and place a restraining order into effect for up to 18 months. An offender violating the PFA order can be arrested and incarcerated.
Unfortunately, some PFAs are falsely filed as a less expensive and faster way of gaining child custody or sole residency of the marital home. Having the right lawyer on your side is absolutely necessary. Our office has tremendous experience representing both the plaintiff (person requesting a PFA) and the defendant (person accused of being abusive).
If you need an attorney with knowledge and experience litigating PFAs, contact us today for your free consultation.
Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act specifies that domestic abuse does not necessarily have to have a physical component. While the threat or causing of physical harm and any physical or sexual mistreatment of children certainly falls under domestic abuse statutes, there can also be victims where there is no physical assault. If a victim has a reasonable fear of bodily injury, she is a victim of domestic abuse under Pennsylvania law. Thus stalking, harassment or a victim's perception that she's being unlawfully imprisoned and fears physical abuse, may be considered domestic abuse.