PFA – Protection from Abuse



11 Dec 2016


Family Law


Only certain individuals can file for a protection from abuse order (PFA) when they feel that the safety of themselves and/or their children are at risk. This could mean that a family member, current or former intimate partner, or a significant other with whom you live or have lived with has caused you bodily injury or has made threats to do the same.


Click here to view the Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Act.

How Do I Get a Protection From Abuse Order?

The first step is to file for a temporary PFA. These are granted without notice to the individual whom they are filed against, because the law takes the position that the restrictions are minimal and the safety of the plaintiff is paramount. In a few weeks the temporary PFA is lifted and a hearing date is scheduled for a final PFA to be entered. If the safety concerns still exist, and it is proven at the hearing to the satisfaction of the hearing officer, or the PFA is consented to by the defendant, the final PFA will be entered. There is an opportunity for the individual to defend against the allegations made. However, the court often gives the alleged victims the benefit of the doubt, because their safety is paramount.

What is the Effect of a Protection From Abuse Order?

A protection from abuse (PFA) order, if granted, will bar the abusive party (defendant) from the residence of the aggrieved party (plaintiff), their place of employment, and other place where the defendant believes the Plaintiff might reasonably be. This can also apply to the defendant being barred from the children’s school if the parties have children together and the children have been included in the action. A Rudimentary custody schedule can be included in an order for a final PFA as well until the parties takes steps to seek a more permanent solution.


Individuals are absolutely barred from owning any firearms for the duration of a PFA. That means that the individual has to turn in any hunting rifles, pistols and automatic weapons in to the police department. It is very difficult to get weapons back, even after a PFA is lifted or expired.

What Happens if a PFA is Violated?

Violation of a PFA results in an automatic charge for criminal contempt. This is true even where the person who sought the PFA ‘consents’ to the contact. A very common mistake is made when the person tries to reconcile and come back into the home, or visit outside the home, when a PFA is active. If things go wrong and the police are notified, the individual will be arrested and charged on the spot.

How Can a PFA be Lifted?

Deciding to seek a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA) should not be taken lightly. Additionally, If you have a PFA filed against you, it is paramount to know and fully understand what is going to happen. It is best to consult with an attorney and explain your unique situation so that you can have legal assistance in determining the next steps and appropriate actions.


A skilled attorney can help answer questions such as:


  • When should I file for a PFA?
  • When should I dispute a PFA filed against me?
  • How long does a PFA last?
  • Can I still go to work if my wife and I own a business?
  • Who gets exclusive use of the marital home?
  • Can I still see my kids?
  • How can I get my hunting rifles back if a PFA has been lifted?

Call to speak with one of our attorneys. The initial advice is always free

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Pittsburgh, PA 15206

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