Everyone deserves to be safe, especially our children. Sometimes you feel as if you know a person, but then they become unrecognizable, making you feel trapped and unable to protect your children. You are not alone, and you do not have to stay in that relationship, nor do you have to consider leaving your children with your partner. There’s a misconception that you need to have indisputable proof of abuse for a restraining order, but that’s not true. Pennsylvania’s Protection From Abuse Act allows parents to file a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order quickly to protect themselves and their children.
As stated, abuse or the threat of abuse is against the law in Pennsylvania. If you feel that you or your children are experiencing this, you can file a PFA at your local Court of Common Pleas Family Division, which can be easy to find on their site. You can file this on your own, through your attorney, or through the local legal services office.
Who Can Get a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order?
There are qualifications for filing a Protection From Abuse order, but they are not so specific that they are hard for victims of abuse to meet. Firstly, you must be an adult member of your household, 18 years or older, or the adult guardian of a minor child.
Secondly, you must have one of the following relationships with the abuser:
- They are your spouse or in-law.
- They are a current or previous “intimate” partner. Intimate can include dating, it does not exclusively mean a sexual relationship.
- They are a blood relative such as your parent, sibling, child, grandparent, or cousin.
- They are the biological parent of your child.
The vagueness of what is considered an “intimate” partner can help you to qualify for a PFA order if the abuser in question does not fit the other potential relationship descriptions.
What is Considered Abuse?
There are specific actions that qualify as abuse and warrant a PFA order. For instance, harassment is not considered legal abuse under Pennsylvania law. What is considered abuse, includes:
- Attempting to or successfully causing or committing “bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest,” with or without a deadly weapon.
- “Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily harm.”
- False imprisonment.
- “Physically or sexually abusing minor children.”
- Stalking, which is defined as, “Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts towards another person, including following the person, without proper authority, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.”
You’ll notice that there is a physical component or threat that qualifies abuse for a PFA order. If you’re ever questioning whether you qualify, ask yourself, “Do I feel physically threatened, or that my children have been physically threatened?” If you can’t answer that question, you can also contact an attorney with details of your abuser.
What Happens Once You Get a PFA?
When you receive a protection from abuse order, it grants you specific protections until your eventual court date, which is usually held within up to 10 business days. During this time, the PFA order from your judge can temporarily grant you and/or cause any of the following:
- A court order for the abuse to stop.
- Eviction of the abuser from the family domicile.
- Establish or re-establish legal custody, physical custody, and visitation rights during that time.
- A court order for the abuser to pay support, including health insurance coverage, rent, or mortgage payments, and cover financial losses, including medical and moving expenses that you suffered as a result of abuse.
- A court order for the abuser to stay away from you, your residence, your place of employment, or your school.
- An order to law enforcement, school district, and human service agencies to keep your address and any information about you private.
- A court order for the abuser to stop harassing you or your children, stop stalking you, relinquish their firearm license(s), and relinquish any weapons including but not limited to ammunition and firearms.
- A court order for the abuser is to be barred from acquiring or purchasing any firearms for the duration of the PFA.
Contact a Protection From Abuse Order Attorney for Help
After you receive a PFA order, you need to have representation for your eventual court against your abuser. They will likely seek out their own representation to defend themselves and gain back custody rights to your children. To protect you and your children, contact Scranton PFA attorney Craig Kalinoski for help.
If you cannot file for a PFA order for any reason, contact Kalinoski Law Offices. We can file one on your behalf to protect you and your children as soon as possible.