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How to File a Restraining Order or PFA Order in Pennsylvania

Home » How to File a Restraining Order or PFA Order in Pennsylvania

What is the Process for Filing a Restraining Order in Delco, PA?

Facing the decision to file a restraining order or Protection From Abuse (PFA) order, is an emotionally taxing experience that can be fraught with anxiety, fear, and vulnerability. For those considering this legal measure in Pennsylvania, the burden is not just on the legal intricacies but also the web of emotions woven by the relentless intrusion into one’s personal space and security.

If you feel your safety is in danger, the first step is to find a safe place and call the police. From there, you can seek an emergency PFA which will provide overnight protection from an abuser. The police will provide you with information on how to contact an on-call magisterial district judge. If you wish to extend the PFA past the morning of the next day, you will need to file a temporary restraining order with the court. 

The journey from recognizing the need for a restraining order to the actual filing can be harrowing, as victims grapple with the realization that their safety is compromised. Taking such a step often signifies the impact of a series of traumatic incidents, be it persistent harassment, stalking, abuse, or threats.

A PFA order provides immediate legal protection, prohibiting the alleged abuser from contacting or approaching the victim. Violating the order can result in serious legal consequences.

PFAs can also include provisions for the protection of children, specifying custody arrangements, and visitation rights to ensure their safety.

Pennsylvania provides legal avenues for those seeking protection from potential harm through the issuance of restraining orders or PFAs. However, the decision to initiate legal proceedings can be an isolating one, as victims wrestle with the fear of retaliation, societal judgment, and the legal complexities involved.

That is why Saadzoi Law is here to help, not only with legal proceedings but to stand with you and help you get through a very courageous decision. Attorney Wana Saadzoi is an experienced and compassionate attorney who thoroughly understands the law and will fight for your legal protection.

Restraining Order Lawyer – Delco, PA

Saadzoi Law: 610-566-5956

Taking the Steps to File a Protection From Abuse Order

The fear of not being believed or the worry that the legal system might not provide adequate protection can be paralyzing.  Deciding to file a restraining order is a monumental and deeply personal one. As the legal wheels start turning, the emotional toll can intensify.

However, a Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order can be a vital legal tool to ensure your safety and the safety of your children or loved ones.

Below you will find comprehensive information on how to file a restraining order in Pennsylvania, focusing on the procedures and nuances specific to Delaware County, PA.

Understanding Protection from Abuse Orders (PFAs)

In Pennsylvania, there are generally three types of PFAs: A Protection from Abuse Order, a Sexual Violence Protection Order, and a Protection from Intimidation Order (only for minors under 18).

What is a PFA or Restraining Order?

A Protection from Abuse Order (PFA), also known as a restraining order, is a court order designed to protect victims of domestic violence, harassment, or other forms of abuse by a household member, intimate partner, or dating partner. In Pennsylvania, the PFA Act empowers individuals to seek legal protection against abusive individuals.

There are no court fees in Pennsylvania associated with filing a petition or the defendant served. If you hire an attorney to help you with the PFA process, you only pay attorney fees, not court fees.

Under Pennsylvania’s Protection From Abuse Act, abuse is defined as:

    • Physical abuse;
    • A threat that places you in immediate fear of physical injury, or;
    • A pattern of conduct (such as stalking) that places you in immediate fear of physical injury.

Read the full PA Code Chapter 61, Title 23 on Domestic Relations and Protection from Abuse.

A PFA or restraining order sets rules for a person accused of hurting or threatening you and restricts their access and proximity to you. Your input helps the court determine these rules. If a person breaks the rules according to the PFA, they can be arrested.

To petition for a PFA, you must be or have been, in a relationship with or a family member of the person against whom you want to file.

Forms for filing a Restraining Order or Protection From Abuse Order in Pennsylvania:

Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence and/or Intimidation

If you want to file a petition for sexual violence and intimidation for someone who you do NOT have a family or household relationship with, you would file what is known as a Sexual Violence Protection Order, or SVPO, under Title 42. This would be if you want protection from a stranger, friend, or coworker.

Forms for filing a Sexual Violence Protection Order in Pennsylvania:

Protection from Intimidation Order (PFI)

This type of order is only for minors under the age of 18 seeking protection from someone who is 18 or older and who is harassing or stalking them and is not a family member and does not have an intimate relationship with them. The perpetrator could be a coach, counselor, or stranger, for example. An adult or guardian must file the petition on their behalf.

Learn more about Protection Orders in Pennsylvania from the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Services

How Can a Protection From Abuse Order Protect Me?

A person under a PFA is prohibited from contacting you or approaching you. Depending on the stipulations of the order, they may also be prohibited from buying guns or weapons or ordered to turn in weapons they already own.

Anyone who violates a PFA order can be arrested and will face charges punishable by fines and jail time.

A PFA order can also restrict the abuser from contacting your children or other members of your family.

In Delaware County, PA, a protection order can help:

  • Prohibit abusive conduct;
  • Remove the abuser from your residence;
  • Provide other provisions a Judge deems necessary. 

If you would like to speak with an attorney more about your legal rights, call Saadzoi Law today.

PFA Lawyer – Delco, PA

Saadzoi Law: 610-566-5956

The Process for Filing

The Three Stages of Filing Restraining Orders or PFAs in Delco, PA

The length of time the PFA order lasts against the abuser depends on which PFA is issued:

  • Emergency PFA Order:  Usually issued by the District Justice after 3:00 PM on business days or when the Court of Common Pleas is closed. It is typically in effect until the next business day when the Court of Common Pleas reopens. It may also be issued on weekends and holidays. Emergency PFAs provide immediate protection from abuse. There is no hearing and the abuser has no say in their defense. The protection only lasts until overnight, however, until the morning of the very next day, so it is generally advised to then petition for a temporary PFA.
  • Temporary PFA Order: Granted when the court is open but provides immediate protection until a final hearing can be held. You must attend the hearing and convince a judge with evidence that you or your children are in immediate and present danger of abuse. If a temporary PFA order is issued by the judge, a Final Protection Hearing will be scheduled within ten days.
  • Final or Permanent PFA Order: Issued after a court hearing where both parties present evidence. It can last up to three years and may be extended if necessary. At the final hearing, both you and the defendant must be present. The abuser can at this time also hire an attorney and have their defense prepared.

Read more about the Protection from Abuse Order process in Delaware County.

What Grounds Do I Have for Filing a PFA?

There are many types of domestic violence and it is not always physical. Emotional and verbal abuse is terrifying and traumatic. If you feel your safety is at risk, if you are being threatened, if you do not have freedom of movement or making decisions for yourself and your children under threats or if you are being violently or sexually assaulted and abused, or threatened with abuse, you have a reason to file a PFA.

Basic Reasons to file a PFA in Pennsylvania include:

  1. Physical Abuse: Any form of physical harm or threat of harm;
  2. Sexual Abuse: Forced sexual conduct or non-consensual acts;
  3. Verbal or Emotional Abuse: Persistent threats, intimidation, or emotional distress, and;
  4. Stalking: Unwanted and repeated surveillance or following.

Jurisdiction and Delaware County, PA

For residents of Delaware County, filing for a PFA falls under the jurisdiction of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. It’s crucial to understand the local procedures and requirements.

The First Steps in Filing a PFA in Delaware County

If you are in immediate danger, seek a safe place and call the police. From there, you can seek an emergency protection order. At that point, you may also call an attorney and begin the process of filing a temporary PFA.

Steps in Filing a Protection from Abuse Order in Delco, PA

  1. Seek Legal Counsel: Before filing a temporary PFA, consult with an experienced attorney like Wana Saadzoi. Our attorneys can help protect your rights, fight for your safety, and help you understand your rights and legal options.
  2. Gather Necessary Information: Prepare a detailed account of the incidents, including dates, locations, and any evidence such as photographs, text messages, or medical records.
  3. Complete the Form/Petition: Obtain the necessary petition from the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas or their website
  4. File the Forms: Submit the completed forms to the Family Court division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. There are no filing fees for Protection from Abuse Orders. Once the forms are filed, a hearing will be scheduled.
  5. Proceed to the Office of the Court Administrator: Attend the hearing and present your case with the assistance of your attorney. If a temporary PFA is issued, a final hearing will be set within ten days.
  6. Inform local police: Take copies of the PFA Order (temporary and permanent) to your local Police or Sheriff’s Department for service.
  7. Attend the Final PFA Hearing: You and the person you filed the PFA against must attend the hearing. The alleged abuser will also have an opportunity to present their side and may have an attorney represent them. If the court finds in your favor, a PFA order will be issued.

How Saadzoi Law Can Help

Legal Expertise

Saadzoi Law has a thorough understanding of both sides of the law, as a former prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. Our law office also specializes in family law matters, including restraining orders / PFAs. Our expertise ensures that you navigate the legal process effectively, maximizing your chances of obtaining a PFA order.

Advocacy in Court

Having an experienced attorney by your side during court proceedings is invaluable. Wana Saadzoi will advocate for your rights and present a compelling case on your behalf.

Guidance Through the Process

Understanding the complexities of the legal system can be overwhelming. Wana Saadzoi and her team will guide you through each step, providing support and clarity during a challenging time.

Filing a PFA can be an intimidating and huge step for domestic violence victims. Attorney Saadzoi and her team understand what you are going through and empathize with your situation. We are here to help and provide the best legal counsel possible to keep you and your family secure and safe from harm.

Filing a Protection from Abuse Order is a critical step toward ensuring personal safety in the face of abuse. Saadzoi Law is dedicated to helping individuals navigate the legal complexities of obtaining a PFA, particularly in Delaware County, PA. Remember, seeking legal help is not just about protection; it’s about reclaiming control over your life and securing a safer future for you and your loved ones.

Resources for Domestic Violence in Delaware County, PA

Call 610-566-5956 to schedule a free legal case evaluation. 

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