A PFA can be filed with either the district court during non-business hours such as nights and weekends or the Court of Common Pleas during business hours. If you file in district court, you must also then file in the Court of Common Pleas as soon as the courthouse opens. Not everyone can file for a PFA. You must have some relationship with the person you are seeking protection from which is spelled out in the statute. In addition, if you are filing for a child, you must be their parent or legal guardian or appointed by the court as their guardian ad litem or they must be a member of your household. When you file you are asking for immediate, temporary relief from the court until you can get into court for your hearing which must be scheduled within ten days of the date of your filing.
Orders for Protection
Orders for a PFA vary. You can have a temporary order entered when it is filed before the hearing. These last usually until the day of the hearing. Look closely at the temporary order as it MUST be signed by the JUDGE to be an order. In addition, at the hearing, you are asking for a final order. These can be for up to three years maximum but could be less. You can ask for various remedies as part of of a PFA, including eviction from the house, support, custody and reimbursement for out of pocket loss due to the abuse. If you file for support you will also need to file with the Court of Common Pleas for support.
Agreeing to a PFA at court or Defending on a PFA
Oftentimes, attorneys will have you agree to a PFA and tell you that it is without prejudice or admission of guilt. While this is true, entering into an agreed PFA has the same net effect as having a PFA entered against you after a hearing. If you violate the order or agreement, you will be found in contempt and can face jail time as it becomes criminal. Never agree to a PFA unless you are sure that there is no way you can defend on it or you committed the abuse.
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