The Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse Act protects you and your children from the threat or act of physical or sexual abuse. The court system can provide protection from an abuser through the use of a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA). It is incredibly important if you are in fear of abuse that you understand how to obtain a protection from abuse order in Pennsylvania, and reaching out to an attorney in your area can help. The article below explains what the state considers abuse, who can apply for a protection order, how to obtain the order, and what type of protection you can receive from your abuser.
What is Abuse?
Under Pennsylvania law, abuse is defined as attempting or causing physical harm with or without a weapon, rape or any type of sexual assault, physical or sexual acts against minor children, placing a person in reasonable fear of immediate and serious harm, stalking and committing other acts that cause a person to be in reasonable fear of bodily injury, or interfering with a person’s freedom of movement.
Who can File for a PFA?
Only certain people can file for a Protection From Abuse Order in Pennsylvania. In order to obtain this type of protection from the court, a person must be an adult household member or guardian of a minor child and have one of the following types of relationship with the accused abuser:
- Related by marriage
- Related by blood
- Biological parents of a minor child
- Current or past intimate partners
It is important to note that for current or past intimate partners, it does not require a sexual relationship. Simply dating a person is enough to qualify as an intimate partner if you fear abuse.
Obtaining a PFA Order
In order to obtain a PFA order in Pennsylvania, you must file a petition with the Court of Common Pleas Family Division. It is beneficial to have the help of an attorney who can ensure that the forms are properly filled out and contain all of the relevant information you need to receive a PFA from the court. If the judge believes that you are in immediate danger, the court can order a temporary protection order without the abuser being present that lasts for up to 10 business days or until a formal hearing is held. Once a hearing is held, a formal PFA can be put in place that can last for up to 36 months; however, the order can be extended if the judge believes that you or your children are still in danger of abuse.
Protections Provided by a PFA
A PFA order can force an abuser to do any or all of the following actions, depending on the facts of your case:
- Order the abuse to stop
- Evict the abuser from the house
- Establish custody and visitation rights
- Order child support from the abuser
- Order the abuser to stay away
- Order the abuser to stop stalking, communicating, or harassing you and your children
- Require the relinquishment of weapons, and more.
In addition, all counties in Pennsylvania have domestic abuse hotlines and support groups. For example, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania there is a domestic violence legal network that was established to help victims. You can access the website here. Contact The Martin Law Firm at 215-646-3980 to learn how an experienced PA divorce attorney can assist you.