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.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. You can visit www.nnedv.org for details on the daily initiatives. The goal is to provide information on what constitutes domestic violence and how to address it once recognized. Thursday, October 19th, is purple Thursday and people are encouraged to wear purple to raise awareness. Pennsylvania has several laws in place to protect victims of domestic violence.
Pennsylvania's Protection from Sexual Violence and/or Intimidation Act (PSVI) became effective July 2015. 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.
Under Pennsylvania's Unfair Insurance Practice Act, an insurance company may not deny a claim by an innocent co-insured where the loss was caused by the intentional act of another insured if the innocent co-insured is a victim of domestic violence. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently addressed this provision in Lynn v. Nationwide Insurance Company.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Next week, October 16th - 22nd, is the week of action. You can visit www.nnedv.org for details on the daily initiatives. Thursday, October 20th, is purple Thursday and people are encouraged to wear purple to raise awareness. Pennsylvania has several laws in place to protect victims of domestic violence.
On April 21, 2016, Governor Wolf signed into law a bill which essentially simplifies the process for victims of domestic violence to obtain a divorce. Currently, under the Divorce Code, even in the case of domestic violence, if a spouse refuses to consent to the divorce after 90 days, the divorce cannot proceed until there has been a two-year separation. In the new law that takes effect in sixty days (around June 22, 2016), a victim of domestic abuse can file for divorce and the law presumes consent of a party if they have been convicted of committing a personal injury crime against the other party.
This weekend many will be celebrating Valentine's Day with their loved ones. Cards and gifts are exchanged to express love and friendship. February 14th also marks V-Day: a global activist movement to end violence against women. This movement started in 1998 and has raised millions of dollars in addition to bringing awareness of the issue of violence against women on an international scale. Pennsylvania recently enacted the Protection from Sexual Violence and/or Intimidation Act (PSVI). The Act allows victims to obtain a civil no-contact order for up to three (3) years on the basis of sexual violence.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. The goal is to raise awareness in respect to preventing abuse, reducing the risk of abuse and promoting healthy families. The Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health sponsors the annual awareness campaign. The first Child Abuse Prevention week was recognized in 1982. It extended to an entire month of awareness the following year in 1983. The theme continues to be "Making Meaningful Connections" to promote familial and community relationships as a support system to reduce abuse.
As detrimental as it is to the children of a separation or a divorce, sometimes one parent chooses to withhold the children from the other parent. They may feel they are the better parent and are protecting the children. They may just be angry and want to use the children as pawns to get back at the other parent. They may feel they have the right to determine the custody schedule for various reasons. Regardless of why a parent is withholding the children and keeping them from the other parent it is not something that either parent should take into their own hands. If you are the parent who is not seeing your children, you need to immediately file for emergency custody in the county where the children reside if they have been there for at least six months. If the children have not bee in that state or county for six months, then you need to file emergency relief in the state or county where they last resided for six months. If your ex moved out of state with the children less than six months prior, you will want to also seek relief that includes returning the children to the state, and possibly alerting the authorities if the other parent did not disclose their whereabouts. Waiting to file with the court can impact your case as the court will question why something was not done sooner. In addition, you should record all attempts that you make to contact the children both before and after you file. This could be text messages, letters sent to the house, phone calls made, and attempts to visit. You should be careful, however, in remaining calm as sometimes the other parent will then allege harassment or file a Protection from Abuse in an attempt to further gain control in custody. As difficult as it will be waiting to get into court, the sooner you file the sooner the court can remedy the situation.
Under the Protection from Abuse Act, a Court can, as part of the order granting a protection from abuse, also issue terms on custody of the minor children as part of that order.A Protection from Abuse order can be granted in Pennsylvania for up to three years. If an order includes a provision for custody, this does not mean that the other parent will not get to see the children for three years. If an order is entered that contains custody provisions, it is very important if the order is entered against you that you file for custody through the Family Court in the county where the Child resides. The Court in Family Court will determine custody and the terms of that custody order will override the terms in the Protection from Abuse Order. Likewise, if you receive a Child Support order as part of a Protection from Abuse Order, you must file for child support within two weeks in order to continue to receive child support. You file for child support at Domestic Relations. As long as you file for child support within the two week period, you will continue to receive support under the PFA order until Domestic Relations has its hearing and enters a new child support order. If you fail to file in the two week period then the child support in the PFA will terminate and you will not get support until you file and have a hearing through Domestic Relations.