Protection from Abuse
Pennsylvania law permits a person the ability to obtain a protection from abuse order, commonly referred to as a PFA. A PFA is a court order that provides the person seeking relief with protection against an alleged abuser for a period of up to three years. The PFA can also extend to minor children of the applicant, if the situation warrants.
Who can Obtain a Protection from Abuse Order
Pennsylvania law permits a number of different categories of people the ability to obtain a PFA. These include spouses or former spouses as well as individuals involved in some sort of domestic partnership. A same sex partner is also able to obtain a protection from abuse order in the commonwealth.
Other categories of individuals who qualify for a PFA are children and other relatives (including parents or brothers and sisters). People involved in dating relationships, but who are not cohabitating, are also able obtain protection from abuse orders.
It is important to keep in mind that the PFA does not apply to a stranger who may be interfering in the peaceful existence of an individual. There are other legal provisions available for that type of issue. In addition, a PFA cannot be utilized in the case of roommate in the absence of an intimate relationship.
Obtaining a PFA
Each county in the commonwealth has a slightly different procedure for obtaining a PFA. Because of this, as is the case with other judicial matters, obtaining legal assistance is the best course to ensure that proper steps are taken to obtain protection from abuse.
The procedure begins with the preparation of a petition seeking a PFA. The petition enumerates the reasons a PFA is sought and why the petitioner qualifies to obtain this type of relief. This includes an explanation of the relationship between the parties.
The court typically grants a temporary protection from abuse order at this juncture. The case will be set for a hearing, allowing time for the person named as the alleged abuser to receive notice of the proceedings and a copy of the temporary order.
If the petitioner prevails at the hearing, a final protection of abuse order is handed down by the court. This is the order that can remain in effect for a period of up to three years.