Montgomery County PFA Attorneys
Experienced and Aggressive Trial Lawyers to Protect Your Rights in Your PFA Case
If you have been abused by or are in fear of your spouse or romantic partner, you should seek advice about protection from abuse, commonly known as a PFA. A PFA order is designed to protect the victim by forbidding the defendant from abusing, harassing, stalking, or threatening the victim. The PFA will prohibit or limit the defendant’s right to contact the victim for a period of time.
Alternatively, if you have been notified of a PFA against you as an alleged abuser, you might be anxious about your next steps and how to proceed.
When a Petition for a PFA is filed, a temporary order may issue resulting in immediate eviction of one party from a shared residence. The trials in these matters are scheduled very quickly and the parties often have little time to prepare. For this reason, it is essential to have knowledgeable and experienced counsel.
The attorneys at Shemtob Draganosky Taylor are skilled in this area of law and provide thorough advocacy through PFA trials. Our attorneys represent both petitioners and respondents in these cases. For hard-hitting and aggressive legal protection, whether you seek to obtain a PFA or fear you may be subjected to one, reach out to our firm immediately.
What Is a Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order?
In Pennsylvania, individuals who have experienced abuse or fear abuse may petition for protective relief from the court, which prohibits an alleged abuser from certain behavior like contacting the victim. You may request a PFA for yourself or on behalf of your minor children. Final orders can last from six months to 3 years.
Under Pennsylvania domestic violence laws, abuse is any of the following activity that occurs between family or household members:
- attempting to cause or causing bodily or serious bodily injury, rape, sexual assault, indecent assault, incest;
- placing another in reasonable fear of immediate serious bodily injury;
- false imprisonment;
- physical or sexual abuse of a child; or
- repeatedly committing certain acts towards another person, such as following them, under circumstances that place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.
PFAs are for victims of domestic violence or those related to the alleged abuser in the following ways:
- spouses or ex-spouses;
- domestic partners;
- relation by blood or marriage (e.g., siblings);
- current or former sexual or intimate partners (dating relationships).
The terms of a PFA will vary depending on your situation, but it can do any of the following:
- order the alleged abuser not to abuse, harass, stalk, threaten, or attempt to use physical force against you or your minor children;
- order the alleged abuser to be removed from the home where you both live and grant you possession of the home (or alternate suitable housing);
- award temporary custody or temporary visitation rights of your minor children;
- order the alleged abuser to pay financial support to you or your children;
- prohibit the alleged abuser from having any contact with you or your children, including staying away from your or your child’s place of employment or education;
- order the defendant to relinquish their firearms and firearms license and prohibit them from getting additional firearms;
- order the defendant to pay you for reasonable losses resulting from the abuse (e.g., medical care); and
- grant any other appropriate relief requested.
Filing for a PFA
There are 3 types of PFAs a lawyer can help a victim petition for – an emergency order, an ex parte temporary order, and a final order. An emergency order is for victims who are looking for immediate protection when the courts are closed. If the district judge believes you are in immediate danger, they may grant you an emergency order that will last until the next business day; this order is designed to provide protection until the court opens and you may petition for an ex parte temporary PFA.
An ex parte temporary PFA may be granted without having to notify the alleged abuser beforehand. This order will last until the court hearing for the final PFA, which is usually scheduled within 10 business days. After the court hearing, the judge may decide to grant a final order that can last up to 3 years and be extended.
The process for obtaining a PFA varies from county to county, but the filing process generally follows these steps:
- The victim (plaintiff/petitioner) will go to the county courthouse to fill out a petition. The forms will ask the victim to explain why they are seeking protection and to describe the abuse they’ve suffered. The victim will also indicate what types of protections they are seeking, such as no contact by the abuser or a request that the abuser relinquishes their firearms.
- A judge will then review the petition, after which they may grant or deny a temporary PFA. A date for a final hearing will be scheduled within 10 business days. If a temporary PFA is granted, it provides protection through the date of the final hearing.
- The local sheriff’s office will deliver a copy of the petition, temporary PFA order, and notice of the final hearing to the defendant.
- In the final PFA hearing, the petitioner and defendant appear before the judge with their attorneys. If both the plaintiff and defendant agree on the terms of the order, the judge will make it official (a "PFA by consent" agreement). If either party does not agree, there will be a trial, usually that same day. The judge will make a decision based on this testimony and/or evidence and issue an order.
If you are seeking protection from a domestic abuser in Montgomery County or have legal concerns about an order issued against you, contact our team at Shemtob Draganosky Taylor online or at (215) 544-3974 for legal help immediately.