If you are a victim of domestic violence, or if you believe you or your children are in physical danger because of someone in your life, you may be able to seek protection via a Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse order. Essentially, a PFA outlines guidelines your abuser must follow for a predetermined amount of time, and these guidelines may dictate any number of matters.
For example, a PFA might require that your abuser avoid contacting you by phone, email and other means, or it may require the abuser to return certain items, such as paperwork, pets and what have you. If the person named in the PFA fails to adhere to its terms, he or she may face criminal charges and penalties.
Other reasons for obtaining a PFA
You may also want to seek a PFA is you want your abuser out of your home, or if you want to ensure he or she does not get your and, if applicable, your children’s new address and contact information. If you know your abuser has guns or other weapons and you fear for your or your child’s safety because of them, you may also be able to get a PFA that would force your abuser to turn over such items. In some cases, victims seeking Pennsylvania PFAs also request temporary custody of their children, and they sometimes ask for temporary spousal or child support.
How to obtain a PFA
The process for obtaining a PFA varies somewhat based on the county in which you live. However, in most cases, you must first submit a petition requesting one at your local county courthouse. After a judge reviews your petition, he or she may need to ask you further questions before granting or denying your request for temporary protection. After that, the next step is a final hearing. You and your accuser will typically both appear at the hearing, possibly with legal counsel, and if you cannot agree on terms, the judge will likely implement them for you when granting his or her final order.
A final PFA order can last up to three years. If you fear your safety or that of your children is at risk, do not delay in seeking legal protection.