Chapter 1900 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure discusses the appropriate method in pursuing a Protection from Abuse (PFA) matter. The first issue addressed is venue and outlines where a PFA action can be initiated. Under Pa. R.C.P. 1901.1, a PFA may be filed in the county where the Plaintiff resides, where the Defendant resides or may be served, where the abuse occurred, or if exclusion from a residence is desired, in the county where the residence is located. The complaint should be filed at the Prothonotary's Office of the local courthouse during business hours or at the local district court if after-hours or on weekends. There is no filing fee payable by the Plaintiff.
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Once the complaint is filed, any temporary order and notice of the final hearing should be served on the Defendant. The Sheriff is able to effectuate the service. The Rules provide that the final hearing should occur within ten (10) days of the petition being filed. The Plaintiff must prove abuse beyond a preponderance of the evidence. Abuse is defined as attempting to cause bodily injury, placing another in fear of imminent bodily harm, false imprisonment, child abuse, or a course of conduct placing one in fear of harm (e.g. stalking or harassment).