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Know the Laws: Pennsylvania

UPDATED January 9, 2015

Protection from Abuse Orders (PFA)

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A protection from abuse order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons who you have a child in common with.

Who can get a protection from abuse order

back to topWho can get a protection from abuse order (PFA)?

If you are an adult (person 18 or over) or emancipated minor, you can seek legal protection from acts of domestic abuse done to you or your minor child by a family or household member, which includes:

  • your husband or ex-husband;
  • your wife or ex-wife;
  • a person who lives or lived with you as a spouse;
  • your brother or sister;
  • your parent or child;
  • a family member related to you by blood or marriage;
  • a current or former sexual or intimate partner; and
  • someone you have a child in common with.*
* 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6102(a)

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back to topCan I get a protection from abuse order against a same-sex partner?

In Pennsylvania, you may apply for a protection from abuse order (PFA) against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can get a protection from abuse order (PFA)?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Pennsylvania?

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back to topCan I get a protection from abuse order if I am a minor?

Yes.   However, as a minor* (a person under the age of 18), you will need a parent, adult household member or guardian ad litem to file the protection from abuse order on your behalf.**

* 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6102(a)
** 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6106(a)

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back to topHow much does it cost?

You will not be required to pay any fees when you file a petition for a protection from abuse order.  If you are granted a PFA, the judge may require the defendant to pay all the fees of filing and service as well as an additional $100, which goes towards enforcement of domestic violence laws.*

* 23 Pa.C.S.A.§ 6106(b)-(d)

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back to topDo I need a lawyer?

No, you do not need a lawyer to file for a protection from abuse order, but it is generally better to have one if you can, especially if the abuser has an attorney.  In many places, local domestic violence or sexual assault programs can help you file for a PFA.  The prothonotary, or courthouse official in charge of records, may also be able to give you some forms and information.  Please keep in mind that courthouse officials and domestic violence advocates who are not lawyers cannot give you legal advice or represent you in court.  You will find a list of legal organizations that might be able to help you at the PA Finding a Lawyer page.  You will find contact information for prothonotaries at the PA Courthouse Locations page.

 

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