Being married for 7 years and my experience…
A protection from abuse (PFA) is a civil order of protection for both men and women that a judge signs to tell an abuser to stop the behavior if he or she wants to avoid legal consequences. You should seek a PFA if either you or a household member is a victim of domestic violence. The state defines domestic violence as an attempt to cause either bodily injury or fear of such injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, false imprisonment, physical and/or sexual child abuse, and following/stalking.
Steps on how to file for a PFA
You can call your local resource center, or if you are a woman, you can search the web for “women’s resource center for domestic violence”. Here is a link to one in Monroe Country, PA: https://www.wrmonroe.org and another for the NEPA Women’s Resource Center. The resource centers will assist you in filling out the PFA, and then you can then go to your local courthouse and file the petition.
Be sure to complete all of the necessary forms listing yourself as the plaintiff and your abuser as the defendant. Describe the abuse in detail, if there was a weapon involved, when and where the abuse occurred, and a detailed account of what happened. Ask questions if you have them as you complete the paperwork. Do not sign the documents until the prothonotary reviews them as you might be required to sign them in front of either a notary or a judge.
Next, you will have an “ex parte” temporary PFA, which a judge will grant if he or she finds that you and/or minor children are in danger of further abuse based on the information you provide without the abuser being in court. This PFA lasts until the full court hearing happens (usually within 10 days).
To obtain final PFA, both you and your abuser must attend a court hearing during which a judge will determine if you should receive a final PFA. A PFA lawyer can represent you and help defend your stance. Your abuser will also be allowed to defend themselves against the accusations. The judge will then determine if he or she should grant a final PFA. A judge will issue anywhere from 3 months up to three years if he/she finds it necessary after listening to both of your testimonies. If children are involved, they will be added to the PFA and the parents will be able to download an app through the court called, “Family Wizard,” which monitors the conversions for protection. You will receive copies of the temporary order and petition; you should give a copy of each to the sheriff to serve your abuser. You must also complete the sheriff’s service form which provides the information needed to notify your abuser of the court hearing. Be certain to keep a copy of your PFA with you at all times.
In some cases where the courthouse may be closed, there is an emergency order, which lasts until the next business day. When you need to seek an ex parte temporary PFA, this is done through the local police station.
Here at Alpha And Omega Counseling Center we have the knowledge to help asset you with Domestic Disputes. If you are dealing with an emergency, please call 911! Otherwise, you can call us or Contact us today.