Any party experiencing abuse by a partner/spouse (current or former), family member related by blood or marriage or person with whom you share a child may obtain a Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order. The first step is to file a PFA petition with the court. After you have filed, the court will determine if a temporary order should be put in place right away. Specifically, 23 Pa. C.S. 6107 (b) requires the court to conduct an ex parte hearing to determine if a temporary order is warranted. This hearing is only attended by the filing party. It is now required to safeguard the defendant's due process rights by way of questioning the filing party as to the truth of their petition.
Pennsylvania's Protection from Sexual Violence and/or Intimidation Act (PSVI) became effective this month. The Act allows victims to obtain a civil no-contact order for up to three (3) years. Adults and minors can petition for an Order on the basis of sexual violence. Only minors may obtain an Order on the basis of intimidation provided the offender is over 18 years old. There is no filing fee to file. A temporary Order can be granted following an ex parte hearing. A final hearing must be held within ten (10) days of when the Petition is filed. The victim must establish sexual violence and/or intimidation by a preponderance of the evidence.
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.