Safety For You And Your Children During Family Law Proceedings
If you are in an abusive relationship or are leaving one, legal protection is available. A civil protection from abuse (PFA) order puts your abuser on notice and gives you some distance from their threatening behavior.
At Anderson, Leech & Long, our family law attorneys commonly help clients obtain protection from abuse orders in conjunction with divorce proceedings or child custody disputes. They will help you get a temporary PFA and then represent you at the hearing for a final PFA that extends the protection for several months.
If you have suffered physical violence or feel that you are in immediate danger, call 911.
What Is A Protection From Abuse Order (PFA)?
A PFA is a civil order that protects you and your children. It will not result in the person’s arrest or criminal charges. It simply puts restrictions on your abuser to prevent further harm, threats, harassment or vindictive actions.
Who Can Get A Protection Order?
Victims of domestic abuse can seek a PFA against any intimate partner or family member, including a spouse or live-in partner, an ex-spouse or a former dating partner, a co-parent who does not live with them and other members of their household, such as a parent, child or sibling.
What Behavior Qualifies For A PFA?
Pennsylvania’s Protection From Abuse Act states that any of the following are grounds for a PFA:
- Attempting or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury or sexual assault
- Threats or menacing behavior that puts a person in reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm
- False imprisonment (physically restraining a person or preventing them from leaving or calling police)
- Stalking or harassing conduct that puts the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury
What Protection Does The PFA Provide?
You can ask the judge to include any or all of the following provisions in a protection from abuse order:
- Ordering the abuser to stop threatening, abusing, harassing and/or stalking you and your children
- Having the abuser evicted from your residence or excluded from visiting
- Withholding from the abuser your new address or shelter location
- Ordering no contact with you, your children or your family
- Ordering the abuser not to contact you at work
- Awarding you temporary custody of your children
- Awarding you temporary child support and/or spousal support
- Ordering the abuser to reimburse expenses directly related to their behavior, such as takeout meals or motels
- Ordering the abuser to turn over any firearms to the sheriff
- Ordering the abuser to return your personal property or pets
Understanding The PFA Legal Process
You can file a petition at the courthouse explaining what abuse occurred and what protections you are seeking. The judge will either grant a temporary PFA on the spot and set a hearing date or deny the temporary order but grant a hearing within 10 days. At that PFA hearing, you can request a final PFA, a “permanent” protective order that can be granted for up to 18 months.
Are You The Subject Of A Protection From Abuse Order?
Our lawyers have represented clients (men and women) who are on the receiving end of PFAs. Our attorneys are aware that unscrupulous people will use domestic violence allegations and protection orders as leverage in family court proceedings. Our team can represent you at the hearing to ensure that you are not railroaded by false or exaggerated accusations that result in an unwarranted or overly restrictive PFA. They will fight for you to maintain contact with your children, even if it is only through supervised visitation.
Our Team Stands Ready To Help Domestic Violence Victims
The most dangerous time for abuse victims is when they are planning to leave an abuser or shortly after they have fled. Our lawyers will accompany you to the courthouse to seek a temporary PFA and follow through to make sure that you and your children are safe for the duration of your family law proceedings.
Source: montgomerycountypa.gov and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence