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Answers To Common Questions About Protection From Abuse Orders (PFAs)

In Pennsylvania, a protection from abuse order (PFA) is a type of restraining order for domestic violence situations. It’s a powerful tool to keep survivors safe.

Pursuing a PFA can be an intimidating process, however. You shouldn’t have to face it alone.

I’m attorney Anna Sulanowski, the founder of ACS Family Law, PLLC, and I’m passionate about helping domestic abuse survivors reclaim their power and safety. I can advise you of your options for getting a PFA and represent you throughout the process. I can also assist you with any family law concerns you may be facing, such as divorce and custody.

Below are answers to common questions about PFAs in Pennsylvania.

What is a PFA?

A PFA is a civil protection order containing safety provisions for the plaintiff (person seeking protection). Those protections typically include a no-contact provision, and they prevent the defendant (the abuser) from coming within a certain distance of the plaintiff. If the defendant violates the PFA, they may face imprisonment, supervised probation and/or a fine.

The Protection From Abuse Act is codified at 23 Pa C.S. § 6101-6122.

Where can I file for a PFA?

People seeking a PFA without an attorney can seek guidance from the Family Division PFA Unit about petitioning the court for a PFA. Following a brief ex parte hearing (meaning only one party is present), the judge may grant a temporary PFA or deny the petition.

Can I settle my PFA case?

If both parties consent, the case may be settled by executing a no-contact order listing the specific terms the parties are agreeing to.

Who can file for a PFA?

PFAs are for domestic abuse situations. The plaintiff (person seeking protection) must have had one of the following relationships with the defendant:

  • Spouse
  • Person living as a spouse
  • Parent
  • Child
  • Person related by blood or marriage
  • Sexual or intimate partner
  • Person who shares biological parenthood (sibling)

What evidence should I bring to the hearing?

The hearing is your opportunity to have all relevant evidence entered on the record. Examples include police reports, pictures and text messages. Bring at least three copies of all documents (one for your lawyer, one for the defendant and one for the judge). Any witnesses who will be testifying on your behalf must also be present.

Where do I take copies of the PFA?

You should immediately deliver a copy to your local police department. The PFA will also be registered with the state police, and any police department may verify its terms by calling the state police. Other entities that should receive a copy include school, day care and place of employment.

You’re Not Alone. Reach Out For A Free Consultation.

I know how scary and isolating it is to feel trapped in a domestic abuse situation. A PFA may be your way out. And if you’re already out of a dangerous situation, a PFA could be the key to keeping you safe.

Let’s talk about your options and any questions you may have. To get started, call my office in Mt. Lebanon at 412-557-7763. You can also send me an email. I offer free initial consultations with no obligation to move forward.