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What is a “Protection from Abuse Order” in Pennsylvania?

by | Mar 20, 2024 | Family Law, Legal Process

In the latest episode of JC Law’s weekly podcast, The Burden of Proof, we featured Mr. Dean Malik, Esq., the Managing Director of JC Law’s Pennsylvania office, in a discussion on “protection from abuse orders.” Protection from abuse orders (PFAs), play a crucial role in safeguarding individuals from domestic violence, harassment, and abuse, offering vital protection to victims and ensuring their safety and well-being.

In today’s blog, we’ll dive into a deeper examination of PFAs and how they function within Pennsylvania’s legal framework.

What is a Protection from Abuse Order?

Similarly to Maryland’s protective orders, a PFA is a court order designed to protect individuals who have been subjected to domestic violence or abuse. It prohibits the abuser from further contact or harassment and may include other provisions to ensure the safety of the victim and any children involved. PFAs are issued by a judge and, as such, are enforced by law enforcement agencies within the appropriate jurisdiction.

Key Components of a PFA Order

Usage as a restraining order: PFAs typically require the abuser/respondent to stay a certain distance away from the victim, their home, workplace, and any other specified locations. They may also include provisions prohibiting direct or indirect contact, meaning that a respondent can’t contact a petitioner (the person who requested the PFA) via phone, internet, or other digital means.

Child custody and support: In cases involving children, a PFA order may address custody and visitation arrangements, as well as child support payments. This ensures the safety and well-being of the children involved, while allowing the petitioner to maintain their distance from the respondent.

Firearm restrictions: In certain cases, Pennsylvania law prohibits individuals subject to Protection from Abuse orders from possessing firearms. The relinquishment of firearms may be mandated as part of the order. This is meant to serve as an obvious safety measure, preventing the respondent from escalating the situation with a potentially deadly weapon.

Duration and modification: PFA orders are typically temporary, but they can be extended or modified based on the circumstances of the case. Victims can request modifications if their situation changes or if they require further protection, and their request will be considered by the court that initially granted the PFA in the first place.

Obtaining a Protection from Abuse Order

While there are a number of different components to consider with a PFA, the process of obtaining one is relatively straightforward. An individual must file a petition with the court outlining the details of the abuse and the need for protection (hence the term “petitioner”). The court will then review the petition and may issue a temporary order before scheduling a hearing where both parties can present their cases.

The temporary order is meant to prevent any contact between both parties in the immediate short term, which is useful in the case of emergency situations. The following hearing is meant to determine whether a “final,” more formal PFA is required.

Enforcement and Violations

In Pennsylvania, violating the terms of a PFA is a serious offense, and can easily result in criminal charges. The local police department for the specific jurisdiction where a PFA is ordered is responsible for enforcing the PFA, and if a petitioner feels that their PFA is being violated by the respondent, they should immediately report any violations to said law enforcement agency to ensure their safety.

Facing a PFA? Trying to Obtain One? Call NOW to speak with a JC Law attorney

Navigating the legal process of obtaining a protection from abuse order can be complex and emotionally challenging. However, it’s one that can be made much easier by retaining an experienced attorney to stand by your side and guide you through the process, and that’s where JC Law comes in.

Call us right away at (888) JCLAW-10 to speak with an experienced member of our domestic department in a free, one-on-one consultation. If you’d prefer to schedule your consultation at a later time, you can click the button below to set up your meeting by phone, video, or in-person.


Remember, at JC Law, we aren’t just your attorney. We’re your legal ally.