What Relief Can a Pennsylvania PFA Order Provide?

Posted on January 14th, 2022 in Divorce, Family Law

It’s estimated that around 10 million people in the United States suffer from domestic abuse each year. Many Pennsylvania residents are left feeling unsafe in their own homes due to this type of abuse. Abusers may be spouses, intimate partners, parents, or other relatives related by blood or marriage. When domestic abuse occurs, victims need to know that there is help available that can keep them safe from harm, including Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders.

In Pennsylvania, a victim can file for a PFA for themselves as well as on behalf of a child. A PFA can provide various types of relief for victims of domestic abuse. Learn more about what relief a domestic abuse victim can receive through a PFA.

Prohibiting Abuse

Of course, one of the main purposes of seeking a PFA is to put a stop to the abuse. Through a PFA, the court may order that the abuser refrains from abusing the plaintiff or children.

Evicting the Abuser from a Shared Residence

PFA orders can help keep victims safe by evicting the abuser from their shared residence. Courts may order this whether the residence is leased or owned and can evict the abuser even if they jointly lease or own the property. If the abuser solely owns the property and the courts find that the abuser has a duty to support the plaintiff and children, they may still evict the abuser and grant possession to the plaintiff. The courts may also order the abuser to provide alternative housing to the plaintiff and children. 

Awarding Temporary Custody of Children

The court may award temporary custody or temporary visitation rights of a child when a victim files for a PFA. During this time, the court will determine if the abuser poses any risks to the plaintiff or the child.

If the court determines that the abuser has abused the child, poses a risk of abusing the child, has interfered with child custody during the past two calendar years, or poses a risk of interfering with child custody, they will not be granted custody, partial custody or unsupervised visitation. In some cases, if abuse has occurred or may occur, the court may require supervised custodial access by a third party. If serious abuse has occurred or may occur, the court may award supervised visitation in a secure visitation facility or deny custodial access.

Requiring Financial Support

If the court finds that the abuser has a duty to financially support the plaintiff or children, the court may order them to provide this support. This may include requiring the abuser to provide health coverage, pay for unreimbursed medical expenses, and continue to make rent or mortgage payments for the plaintiff’s residence.

Prohibiting Contact

Through a PFA, victims of domestic abuse can stop their abuser from having any contact with them or stalking them. Prohibiting the abuser from contacting the victim and children includes preventing them from going to their place of employment or school. This also prohibits the abuser from harassing the victim’s relatives.

Prohibiting the Possession or Acquisition of Firearms 

A PFA order can prevent abusers from acquiring or possessing firearms for the duration the order is in effect. If the abuser already owns firearms, the court may require them to temporarily relinquish their firearms to a sheriff or a law enforcement agency. The court may also order the abuser to relinquish any other weapons or ammunition. 

Requiring that the Abuser Pay for Losses Due to the Abuse

Domestic abuse can lead to damages for the victims which the court may require the abuser to pay for. This can include the cost of medical treatment, counseling, relocation, damaged property, and lost wages. They may also be required to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees.

Contact a Scranton Family Law Attorney for Help with a PFA

There may be many reasons victims may have difficulties filing for a PFA order on their own. This is an extremely challenging time, and a domestic violence lawyer can provide the assistance you need. Contact Kalinoski Law Offices for help obtaining a PFA order today.

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