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What is a "Protection from Abuse ('PFA') Order?"

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A PFA Order is granted by a court after a hearing or upon presentation of an ex parte petition

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, PFA Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

A Protection from Abuse Order, often times simply referred to as a 'PFA,' is an order granted by a court upon presentation of an ex parte petition or after a hearing on a final order.  "Abuse," as defined by statute (23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6101, et seq.), is the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood:

  • Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon;
  • Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  • The infliction of false imprisonment;
  • Physically or sexually abusing minor children, including such terms as defined in Chapter 63 (relating to child protective services); 
  • Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person, without proper authority, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.

A final PFA usually lasts between six (6) months to three (3) years and can be extended upon request of a party by the court. The Order may establish such things as the following:

  • Directing the defendant to refrain from abusing the plaintiff or minor children;
  • Granting possession to the plaintiff of the residence or household to the exclusion of the defendant by evicting the defendant;
  • Awarding temporary custody of or establishing temporary visitation rights with regard to minor children;
  • Directing the defendant to pay financial support to those persons the defendant has a duty to support, including health care coverage;
  • Prohibiting the defendant from having any contact with the plaintiff or minor children;
  • Ordering the defendant to temporarily relinquish to the sheriff the defendant's other weapons and ammunition;
  • Directing the defendant to refrain from stalking or harassing the plaintiff and other designated persons.

If you have been abused and are seeking a PFA Order, you may wish to contact the local county bar association in your area for free legal representation.  If you have been served with a PFA and want to fight the establishment of an order because the allegations are untrue or want to protect your rights to custody or the home, you should contact experienced legal counsel before your PFA hearing occurs.  You may contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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