Requirements for getting a Protection from Abuse order:

The person you are filing against needs to be a family or household member, sexual or intimate partner or persons who you share biological parenthood with AND that person must have committed an act of abuse against you. In general, you must prove that the defendant either attempted to harm you, physically or sexually assaulted you, stalked you or placed you in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. An order will not be given for emotional abuse.

How do I get an abusive spouse or person of the home?

You need to file a petition with the court alleging the facts surrounding the abuse. No police report is needed; you just need to tell your story. When you go to court you will be interviewed. You will be seen on a "first come first served" basis and could be at court for hours. To expedite this process, if you have time, you may want to fill out the petition before arriving. You can download a petition from my "Forms" tab on my "Home" page.

After filing your petition and being interviewed by the Domestic Violent Unit, your paperwork will be sent to a judge to be reviewed. If approved by the judge, you will have a temporary order and a hearing will be scheduled within ten (10) business days to see if your temporary order will become a final order.

After you leave Court and if your temporary order grants an eviction, the court allow you to serve the order on the "abuser", but this is not advisable. Call the police, tell them you have just received a PFA order and that it needs to be served. Once served by the police, the "abuser" is removed from the home.

Where do I go to file a PFA petition?

If you are applying for a petition during the work week between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM you will need to go to:

Philadelphia Family Court
34 S. 11th Street, Room 242
Philadelphia, PA

If you are filing a petition during the work week from 5:00 PM to 8:00 AM, or during the weekend or holidays. You will need to go to:

Criminal Justice Center
1301 Filbert Street, Room B-03
Philadelphia, PA

I have been served with a PFA, what do I do?

If the PFA has evicted you from the home, whatever you do, do not call the other party or go to the home, even if you have to get clothes, tools, etc. Any contact with the plaintiff will be a violation. If you call the plaintiff, stop by the house, email or text the plaintiff, OR have someone else do it for you, then you can be arrested for contempt, prosecuted in the criminal court, risk getting a conviction and face jail time.

Do I need lawyer for a PFA hearing?

Many people go to a PFA hearing without a lawyer. This is not always wise. Since there is a lot at stake, you may want to consider being represented by an attorney. If you are the plaintiff, the one who filed for a PFA, you jeopardize having the abuser returning to the home if you lose and if you are the defendant, the one who was served with the PFA, you jeopardize being kicked out of the house for 3 years and being labeled an abuser in the criminal justice system.

What is a "Consent without Admission"?

When you go to court, the judge or the court personnel will ask you if you want to resolve the case by agreeing to stay away from the plaintiff. At this point in time, many people are fed up and say that they want nothing to do with the plaintiff. The court will inform you that by agreeing to a "Consent without Admission", it will be put on the record that you are NOT agreeing to the facts alleged by the plaintiff, but you are simply agreeing to stay away. Many people jump at this. Although the information the court is giving you is correct, they fail to tell you the ramifications of this decision. Forewarning, unless you are truly guilty of the facts as alleged, THIS IS DANGEROUS. Even though you would not be agreeing to the facts of abuse as alleged by the plaintiff, you will still walk away with a PFA order against you. If you went to trial and you lost – you will get a PFA order. If you accept a Consent without Admission, you get a PFA order. What's the difference – nothing. There is no difference between them; you will now be placed in the system as an abuser.

What happens at the PFA hearing/trial?

Testimony will be taken from the plaintiff, then the defendant. Each party will explain their version of the events which led up to the alleged argument and abuse. If there were independent witnesses, they should also be present to testify. At the conclusion of the testimony, the judge will decide who is more believable. If it is plaintiff, then the defendant is kick out of the home and ordered to stay away from the plaintiff for up to 3 years. If it is the defendant who is believed, then the PFA is dismissed.

How long are PFA orders in effect?

Usually 3 years. You can always negotiate with the plaintiff for a shorter period, but if the plaintiff wins the case, the order can and generally does remains in effect for 3 years. That means no talking to plaintiff or going to the home for 3 years. This is quite a substantial amount of time.

Who pays the bills if my husband was evicted by a PFA?

Although I understand that there is a contractual obligation to pay the bills with the mortgage company and utility providers, but the general rule in Family Court is that the one who is in the home is responsible to pay the bills. If you do not have the financial means, depending on the circumstances, you may need to file for support.

If a PFA order is entered against me, how will that affect my future?

Well, put it this way, if you are pulled over for a traffic stop and the police run a NCIC check, the computer will come back that there is a domestic violence order against you. They will not know if you beat the crap out of your spouse or if you did nothing but decided to get the case over with by agreeing to stay away by way of a "Consent without Admission". You are now labeled an abuser and you may be prohibited from obtaining certain employment. Also noteworthy, the plaintiff now has full control. All the plaintiff has to do is call the police and say that they say you outside, down the street. This simple allegation can get you arrested for contempt. You really want to walk on egg shells for the next three years every time plaintiff is in a bad mood?

I have a PFA against me but we reconciled. Is the PFA now invalid?

No. It remains valid. Before you move back in or continue dating, have the plaintiff go to court and have the PFA vacated.

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