Domestic violence is a very serious and sensitive problem. Receiving threatening text messages or calls, physical abuse to the body, or showing up to your house unannounced and uninvited and making threats are all circumstances that may make someone consider filing for a PFA Order. If you find yourself in need of protection against domestic violence, the Protection from Abuse process provides a way to obtain protection from your abuser.
I have represented plaintiffs and defendants in PFA matters, and I understand the stress that comes along with obtaining or defending a PFA Order and how serious PFA matters should be handled. Whether you are filing a PFA against someone else or have had one filed against you, it is important to understand what a PFA is and how the PFA system works so that you can be prepared.
What is a PFA?
Many times we hear a protection from abuse (“PFA”) order incorrectly referred to as a “restraining order.” In Pennsylvania, it is a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order, not a restraining order that is issued by the court to protect victims of domestic violence, and, in some cases, their children, from their abuser.
A PFA Order is a civil order that protects a person and/or their minor children from domestic abuse by their abuser. A PFA Order will do several things to protect the victim:
- require an abuser to abide by certain requirements, such as refraining from being in the presence of the victim(s);
- prevent an abuser from stalking, harassing, threatening, abusing, or attempting to use physical force;
- and prevent an abuser from contacting the victim(s) or third parties to relay or get in contact with the victim(s) protected under the PFA Order.
A PFA Order also may evict the abuser from a shared residence, may prohibit the abuser from possessing any firearms, and may award temporary physical custody of the parties’ children to the victim.
Who can a PFA Order be issued against?
The Pennsylvania PFA Act sets forth specific rules on who a victim of domestic violence can file a PFA against.