A judge's gavelDomestic 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.

Continue Reading What is a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order?

One year ago today, on March 18, 2020, Aaron Marines wrote a blog article entitled How Does Coronavirus Affect Your Contracts? When that article was published, we were at the beginning of a government-mandated shutdown that was supposed to last for two weeks, just long enough to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases.

Now, one year later, with shut down orders still partially in effect and the phrase “flatten the curve” a distant memory, I decided to look back at what has happened on the Lancaster Law Blog. What I saw was a variety of articles about all of the things we here at Russell, Krafft & Gruber have done to stay up-to-date on the fast-paced changes to help our clients through this difficult time.

Virtual Offices

After the initial shutdown orders took effect, we quickly pivoted to working remotely through Russell, Krafft & Gruber’s virtual office to avoid any lapses in service for our clients. I was pleasantly surprised when I spoke with a client recently who was shocked to learn that most of our conversations over the past year took place with me at my dining room table.

Continue Reading COVID-19 and the Law: One Year Later

Child support is an area of the law where the outcome is a moving target. Throughout the course of a child’s minority, the amount of child support at issue can regularly change based on the parents’ financial positions and other circumstances, such as the custody schedule.

We regularly meet not only with clients who are filing for child support for the first time, but also with those who wish to modify the amount of child support they are receiving or paying due to a change of circumstances. In both situations, you will be discussing similar information.

But what information should you prepare prior to meeting with an attorney to make the most out of your child support initial consultation?

Continue Reading How to Make the Most Out of Your Child Support Initial Consultation

For many parents, taking the first step to meet with an attorney to discuss custody of your children can be a scary and lonely process, especially if you have never worked with an attorney before. This article will provide information about what to expect during a custody initial consultation and how to make the most of that time.

At Russell, Krafft & Gruber, we view the initial consultation as the first substantive opportunity to meet with a client to gather as much information as possible and prepare a game plan for what will happen next. In custody cases, that involves discussing details about you, your children, the opposing party, and your goals concerning the custody of your children.

Information to Bring

The following is a list of information you should have prepared before you meet with your attorney for an initial consultation:

Continue Reading Child Custody Initial Consultations: How to Make the Most of Your First Meeting with Your Lawyer

On October 29, 2020, Governor Wolf signed into law House Bill 2370, which will permanently permit the use of remote notarization in Pennsylvania.  Before the passage of this bill, Pennsylvania did temporarily permit the use of remote notarization during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is Remote Notarization?

Remote notarization is the notarizing of legal documents

One of the casualties of this pandemic and economic shutdown has been the stock market and, with it, the values of retirement accounts. Defined contribution accounts, both private and employment-based, have taken significant investment hits. You may be wondering how this downturn will affect the consideration of plans such as 401Ks and IRAs in your

Now that the shock of business and court closures has started to wear off, we are beginning to ask ourselves, “Now what?” Fortunately, the Lancaster County Court is taking that question very seriously. It has started processing legal matters and holding hearings, particularly domestic relations or family law matters, via video conferencing.

The Lancaster County

As if the fears and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus aren’t enough, many parents may find themselves having to balance concern for their children’s health with their current custody agreement. How do you keep what is best for your children at heart when navigating decisions about custody during COVID-19?

Open conversation between both parents is the