Pennsylvania’s “restraining orders” for abuse victims are called “protective orders,” or “protection from abuse orders” (PFAs). Anyone who feels threatened or abused by a spouse, significant other, dating partner, or household family member can seek a PFA at no cost.
If you have felt threatened, do not hesitate to seek a protection from abuse order. Alternatively, if the court has issued a PFA against you, you might be slapped with court fees and filing costs. Either way, talking to an experienced family lawyer can help you understand the PFA, how its fees are assessed, and what steps you can take next. Talk to the attorneys at Sadek and Cooper for a free consultation with Philadelphia family law attorneys on your protection from abuse case.
Protection From Abuse Orders Help Victims
The system surrounding protection from abuse orders is clearly aimed at making victims feel comfortable, and helping them get the protection they need. Because of this, there are often elements of PFA laws that are very one-sided.
The entire purpose of PFAs are to help stop abuse and help victims get the help they need. In order to accomplish this, PA law requires that when police respond to a potential abuse case, they must notify the victim of their right to file a PFA. 23 Pa.C.S. § 6106(b) contains the required notice that police must give domestic abuse victims:
“If you are the victim of domestic violence, you have the right to go to court and file a petition requesting an order for protection from domestic abuse pursuant to the Protection From Abuse Act (23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61), which could include the following:
- An order restraining the abuser from further acts of abuse.
- An order directing the abuser to leave your household.
- An order preventing the abuser from entering your residence, school, business or place of employment.
- An order awarding you or the other parent temporary custody of or temporary visitation with your child or children.
- An order directing the abuser to pay support to you and the minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so.”
On top of this, § 6106(b) bars the court from charging any fees against the plaintiff – the person seeking the protective order. There are absolutely no fees for a victim to get an order, modify or withdraw an order, file the paperwork, or have the order enforced. Instead, § 6106(b) and (c) place all fees and surcharges on the defendant.
Before the defendant has to pay for an order, the plaintiff must first prove to a judge that the order is necessary. That means demonstrating that physical abuse occurred, and that it might happen again. In another example of these cases favoring the victim, the defendant is usually not present at the initial hearing. PFAs can be granted on an emergency basis in an “ex parte” hearing, where the defendant does not participate. These temporary PFAs expire after 10 business days. In order to get an order that lasts longer, there must be a full hearing with both sides present. It is very important to have a lawyer represent you in these hearings, whether you are seeking or defending against a PFA.
How to Get a Protective Order in Pennsylvania
Every county courthouse in Pennsylvania is authorized to grant a protective order. The actual process might be different from county to county, but the general process is the same.
First, if you are suffering from abuse in your own home, call the police. Police testimony will be important in demonstrating to a court that the protective order is necessary to prevent abuse. Plus, the police can arrest an abusive partner and keep them away from you for a while.
Police are also an excellent resource to help you get a protective order. Alternatively, every county in Pennsylvania has people who can help you get the forms and paperwork to file for a protective order. Your local courthouse’s website or informational phone number can help you get in touch with court personnel and get you on the path to filing your PFA.
The law does not require you to use a lawyer to file for a PFA, but hiring a lawyer can be a huge help. There are certain required formats that need to be used to file for a PFA, and certain information the request needs to include. Experienced family lawyers understand these requirements, and can help make sure your PFA is granted on the first try. Without an attorney, the process may be extremely frustrating – but know that there is always help available to file a PFA in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Retraining Order Attorney
Pennsylvania’s restraining orders, or “protection from abuse orders,” are powerful tools to help victims of abuse get the help and safety they need. Whether you are filing for a PFA or defending against a PFA, the experienced family lawyers at Sadek and Cooper may be able to help. Call 215-814-0395 today for a free consultation about your Pennsylvania protective order.