Today is PFA day in Bucks County, PA. Historically, it was evident by the overcrowded and flowing areas of the courthouse. PFAs will now be heard in the new Bucks County Justice Center, but somehow that will not change the fact that is one of the most crowded days in court. A Protection from Abuse starts as a civil action where one person who must meet the relationship requirement under the PFA statute files and accuses another person of abuse, usually physical, but can include stalking, harassment. If you are a Petitioner in Bucks County, you have options to help you file that include a free service offered through the Women's Place or through Legal Aid. Not only will they assist you with filing your claim, they will also represent you or assign you an attorney in court. They will have someone also accompany you to court so you do not have to go alone and this person will provide support to you. You also have the option of hiring a private attorney who will be devoted exclusively to your case that day. They can assist you by preparing your petition and making sure all the necessary facts are set forth in your petition. You can ask for protection for up to three years and this protection can include absolutely no contact to restricted contact if you have children. While the court can award custody and support as part of a PFA, you should file both those actions separately as well, especially support which will lapse if you do not file for it.
Family-based immigration is one of the more popular pathways to legal residence in the United States. It is important to understand how family law actions may affect immigration status. Marriage to a US citizen potentially creates an opportunity for a noncitizen to achieve residence. The marriage must first be valid under state law as with any other marriage, but also must pass the criteria of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Marriage fraud, marriage for the sole purpose of obtaining residence, is a serious concern. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) will make inquiries into whether there is a bona fide marriage. Additionally, permanent residence is not an option unless the parties have been married for at least two years.