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Protection From Abuse in Pennsylvania

A Protection From Abuse (PFA) order is a court order that prohibits certain types of contact between an abuser and the victims. Sometimes called a restraining order or a protective order, a PFA order in Pennsylvania provides protection from contact or abuse through the legal system. Violating a PFA could lead to jail time and further restrictions on contact. If you have questions about “Protection From Abuse” orders in Pennsylvania, talk to an experienced family law attorney about what you can do to keep your family safe.

Domestic Abuse Protection in Pennsylvania

If someone has been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or threats of violence, they can seek protection from further contact or abuse from the abuser. In cases of domestic abuse, the victim can file for a Protection From Abuse order. This is available when the victim is seeking protection from a family member, intimate partner, or former partner, including:

  • Spouse or ex-spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Current or former intimate partner
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Relatives by blood or marriage

A PFA order prohibits the subject of the order from taking certain actions or contacting the victim and the victim's family. This may include:

  • Remaining a minimum distance away from the individual, their home, place of work, school, or family members;
  • Prohibited contact, including in person, by phone, text, mail, email, or social media;
  • Gaining temporary custody of children;
  • Giving up guns or any other weapons; and
  • Returning property, including keys, clothing, pets, or other items.

Filing for a PFA Order

The individual seeking a PFA files a petition in the Court of Common Pleas Family Division. A PFA petition can be filed by the individual, with the help of an advocacy group, or through your attorney. The order can go into effect immediately if the court determines the victim needs emergency relief.

PFA orders can be temporary or “final.” A temporary order can last for 10 days, during which a final order hearing should be held. A Final Protection Order (FPO) can be granted by agreement between the parties, or through a court hearing where the alleged abuser is allowed to respond to the court. After a hearing, a judge can grant the FPO or deny the order. An FPO can last for up to 3 years.

Violating a Protection From Abuse Order

If the subject of a PFA order violates any part of the order, including no contact or no stalking, you should contact the police. The police can arrest the abuser for violating the PFA. This can result in criminal charges for “contempt of a protection order,” resulting in up to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse Representation

An experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney can help to protect you and your family through filing a Protection From Abuse order, and make sure those orders are followed. Family law attorney David J. Cohen is devoted to representing the people of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas. Contact the David J. Cohen Law Firm, LLC today for a consultation.

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