Lawyer Discusses Protection From Abuse Orders in Chester County
Breaking Free of Domestic Violence in Chester County
Domestic violence is a terrifying crime that isolates victims and endangers children. Victims should never have to live in fear and deserve protection when they need it most. In Pennsylvania, victims can petition judges to receive protection from abuse orders, which can prevent future abuse and harassment while ensuring the safety of a victim’s children. These petitions are common in high-conflict divorces, and victims are encouraged to speak to attorneys about their situations to ensure their legal rights are protected.
If you need to file a protection from abuse petition with a Chester County court, please contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. today. Our Chester County legal team can discuss your case in a confidential, free consultation and explain how to keep you and your children safe. We have over two decades of experience in family law cases and are strong advocates for Chester County domestic violence victims. Please call us at (610) 645-0100 to get a free consultation.
Understanding Protection From Abuse Orders
Protections from abuse (PFA) orders are a type of order of protection, or restraining order, available to victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania. Under the Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse Act, victims of domestic violence can specifically apply for PFA orders to keep an abuser from harming, contacting, threatening, or following a victim or their children.
PFAs are limited to individuals who have suffered physical abuse or sexual harm at the hands of their current or former spouse, domestic partner, fiancé, boyfriend, girlfriend, intimate partner, or the parent of their child. There are specific procedures that courts have to follow when reviewing and approving PFA orders, but these orders do allow victims to receive immediate protection.
How to Obtain a Protection From Abuse Order in PA
If you were a victim of domestic violence, you can visit the Chester County family law court, which is situated on the 5th floor of the Chester County Justice Center, to request a hearing with a judge to receive an emergency PFA. Hearings are available from 8:30AM to 3:00PM, Monday to Friday, and the process can take up to two hours to receive a PFA. You can request at a hearing during off-hours by calling 911 and speaking with your local Chester County police department. The police can connect you with an on-call District Justice who will review your case.
An emergency PFA will only last until the end of the next business day, however. You will need to explain why you are requesting a PFA and what you would like the order to do. Employees at the Chester County Justice Center can assist with filling out a petition, but you can also speak to a Chester County family law attorney to ensure you understand your legal options every step of the way.
If an emergency PFA is approved, a judge will likely schedule a final order hearing within 10 days to determine if the order will be made permanent. As part of the filing process, both victims (plaintiffs) and abusers (defendants) will receive a Notice of Hearing and Order to inform them of the hearing. The defendant will be made aware of the restrictions of the PFA and the date of the hearing. During the hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to present their side of the case for the judge to review. Based on these testimonies, a judge can issue a final PFA for up to three years, with the option to review it in the future. While you do not need an attorney for a hearing, Chester County Justice Center encourages plaintiffs to have representation throughout the legal process.
Consequences of a PFA Order
PFAs are designed to protect plaintiff’s and their children from further abuse at the hands of a defendant. An order can:
- Restrict a defendant from harassing, threating, abusing, or stalking the plaintiff and their children
- Require the defendant to leave the plaintiff’s home if they live together
- Make the plaintiff’s new address confidential
- Grant the plaintiff temporary and emergency custody
- Prohibit the defendant from contacting the victim or their children
- Require the defendant to turn over any firearms or weapons
- Order the defendant to hand over the plaintiff’s personal property, including pets, vehicles, photos, and other property
Due to the impact of a PFA on child custody, it is common for these cases to overlap with divorce proceedings and other family law disputes. Throughout these cases, it is important to discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can not only advocate for you to receive a PFA, but also work to protect your custody rights and property rights during a divorce.
Speak to a Family Law Attorney About Your Situation
If you need to get a protection from abuse order in Chester County, please reach out to our compassionate legal team at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. Our Chester County family law attorney has more than two decades of experience providing representation in high-conflict family law matters, including cases involving domestic violence and abuse. We can explain your options in a free initial consultation and outline how to protect yourself and your child from an abuser. If you need representation in other family law proceedings, including a divorce or child custody dispute, we can provide the strong representation you need right now. Call us at (610) 645-0100 to discuss your case today.