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Legal Statutes: Pennsylvania

UPDATED May 25, 2017

Pennsylvania Statutes

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Chapter 61. Protection from Abuse

back to top6108. Relief

(a) General rule.--The court may grant any protection order or approve any consent agreement to bring about a cessation of abuse of the plaintiff or minor children. The order or agreement may include:

(1) Directing the defendant to refrain from abusing the plaintiff or minor children.
(2) Granting possession to the plaintiff of the residence or household to the exclusion of the defendant by evicting the defendant or restoring possession to the plaintiff if the residence or household is jointly owned or leased by the parties, is owned or leased by the entireties or is owned or leased solely by the plaintiff.
(3) If the defendant has a duty to support the plaintiff or minor children living in the residence or household and the defendant is the sole owner or lessee, granting possession to the plaintiff of the residence or household to the exclusion of the defendant by evicting the defendant or restoring possession to the plaintiff or, with the consent of the plaintiff, ordering the defendant to provide suitable alternate housing.
(4) Awarding temporary custody of or establishing temporary visitation rights with regard to minor children. In determining whether to award temporary custody or establish temporary visitation rights pursuant to this paragraph, the court shall consider any risk posed by the defendant to the children as well as risk to the plaintiff. The following shall apply:
(i) A defendant shall not be granted custody, partial custody or unsupervised visitation where it is alleged in the petition, and the court finds after a hearing under this chapter, that the defendant:
(A) abused the minor children of the parties or poses a risk of abuse toward the minor children of the parties; or
(B) has been convicted of violating 18 Pa.C.S. § 2904 (relating to interference with custody of children) within two calendar years prior to the filing of the petition for protection order or that the defendant poses a risk of violating 18 Pa.C.S. § 2904.
(ii) Where the court finds after a hearing under this chapter that the defendant has inflicted abuse upon the plaintiff or a child, the court may require supervised custodial access by a third party. The third party must agree to be accountable to the court for supervision and execute an affidavit of accountability.
(iii) Where the court finds after a hearing under this chapter that the defendant has inflicted serious abuse upon the plaintiff or a child or poses a risk of abuse toward the plaintiff or a child, the court may:
(A) award supervised visitation in a secure visitation facility; or
(B) deny the defendant custodial access to a child.
(iv) If a plaintiff petitions for a temporary order under section 6107(b) (relating to hearings) and the defendant has partial, shared or full custody of the minor children of the parties by order of court or written agreement of the parties, the custody shall not be disturbed or changed unless the court finds that the defendant is likely to inflict abuse upon the children or to remove the children from the jurisdiction of the court prior to the hearing under section 6107(a). Where the defendant has forcibly or fraudulently removed any minor child from the care and custody of a plaintiff, the court shall order the return of the child to the plaintiff unless the child would be endangered by restoration to the plaintiff.
(v) Nothing in this paragraph shall bar either party from filing a petition for custody under Chapter 53 (relating to custody) or under the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.
(vi) In order to prevent further abuse during periods of access to the plaintiff and child during the exercise of custodial rights, the court shall consider, and may impose on a custody award, conditions necessary to assure the safety of the plaintiff and minor children from abuse.
(5) After a hearing in accordance with section 6107(a), directing the defendant to pay financial support to those persons the defendant has a duty to support, requiring the defendant, under sections 4324 (relating to inclusion of medical support) and 4326 (relating to mandatory inclusion of child medical support), to provide health coverage for the minor child and spouse, directing the defendant to pay all of the unreimbursed medical expenses of a spouse or minor child of the defendant to the provider or to the plaintiff when he or she has paid for the medical treatment, and directing the defendant to make or continue to make rent or mortgage payments on the residence of the plaintiff to the extent that the defendant has a duty to support the plaintiff or other dependent household members. The support order shall be temporary, and any beneficiary of the order must file a complaint for support under the provisions of Chapters 43 (relating to support matters generally) and 45 (relating to reciprocal enforcement of support orders) within two weeks of the date of the issuance of the protection order. If a complaint for support is not filed, that portion of the protection order requiring the defendant to pay support is void. When there is a subsequent ruling on a complaint for support, the portion of the protection order requiring the defendant to pay support expires.
(6) Prohibiting the defendant from having any contact with the plaintiff or minor children, including, but not limited to, restraining the defendant from entering the place of employment or business or school of the plaintiff or minor children and from harassing the plaintiff or plaintiff's relatives or minor children.
(7) Ordering the defendant to temporarily relinquish to the sheriff the defendant's other weapons and ammunition which have been used or been threatened to be used in an incident of abuse against the plaintiff or the minor children and the defendant's firearms and prohibiting the defendant from acquiring or possessing any firearm for the duration of the order and requiring the defendant to relinquish to the sheriff any firearm license, issued under section 6108.3 (relating to relinquishment to third party for safekeeping) or 18 Pa.C.S. § 6106 (relating to firearms not to be carried without a license) or 6109 (relating to licenses) the defendant may possess. A copy of the court's order shall be transmitted to the chief or head of the police force or police department of the municipality and to the sheriff of the county of which the defendant is a resident. When relinquishment is ordered, the following shall apply:

(i)(A) The court's order shall require the defendant to relinquish such firearms, other weapons, ammunition and any firearm license pursuant to the provisions of this chapter within 24 hours of service of a temporary order or the entry of a final order or the close of the next business day as necessary by closure of the sheriffs' offices, except for cause shown at the hearing, in which case the court shall specify the time for relinquishment of any or all of the defendant's firearms.
(B) A defendant subject to a temporary order requiring the relinquishment of firearms, other weapons or ammunition shall, in lieu of relinquishing specific firearms, other weapons or ammunition which cannot reasonably be retrieved within the time for relinquishment in clause (A) due to their current location, provide the sheriff with an affidavit listing the firearms, other weapons or ammunition and their current location. If the defendant, within the time for relinquishment in clause (A), fails to provide the affidavit or fails to relinquish, pursuant to this chapter, any firearms, other weapons or ammunition ordered to be relinquished which are not specified in the affidavit, the sheriff shall, at a minimum, provide immediate notice to the court, the plaintiff and appropriate law enforcement authorities. The defendant shall not possess any firearms, other weapons or ammunition specifically listed in the affidavit provided to the sheriff pursuant to this clause for the duration of the temporary order.
(C) As used in this subparagraph, the term "cause" shall be limited to facts relating to the inability of the defendant to retrieve a specific firearm within 24 hours due to the current location of the firearm.
(ii) The court's order shall contain a list of any firearm, other weapon or ammunition ordered relinquished. Upon the entry of a final order, the defendant shall inform the court in what manner the defendant is going to relinquish any firearm, other weapon or ammunition ordered relinquished. Relinquishment may occur pursuant to section 6108.2 (relating to relinquishment for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping) or 6108.3 or to the sheriff pursuant to this paragraph. Where the sheriff is designated, the sheriff shall secure custody of the defendant's firearms, other weapons or ammunition and any firearm license listed in the court's order for the duration of the order or until otherwise directed by court order. In securing custody of the defendant's relinquished firearms, the sheriff shall comply with 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(f)(4) (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms). In securing custody of the defendant's other weapons and ammunition, the sheriff shall provide the defendant with a signed and dated written receipt which shall include a detailed description of the other weapon or ammunition and its condition.
(iii) The sheriff shall provide the plaintiff with the name of the person to which any firearm, other weapon or ammunition was relinquished.
(iv) Unless the defendant has complied with subparagraph (i)(B) or section 6108.2 or 6108.3, if the defendant fails to relinquish any firearm, other weapon, ammunition or firearm license within 24 hours or upon the close of the next business day due to closure of sheriffs' offices or within the time ordered by the court upon cause being shown at the hearing, the sheriff shall, at a minimum, provide immediate notice to the court, the plaintiff and appropriate law enforcement agencies.
(v) Any portion of any order or any petition or other paper which includes a list of any firearm, other weapon or ammunition ordered relinquished shall be kept in the files of the court as a permanent record thereof and withheld from public inspection except:
(A) upon an order of the court granted upon cause shown;
(B) as necessary, by law enforcement and court personnel; or
(C) after redaction of information listing any firearm, other weapon or ammunition.
(vi) As used in this paragraph, the term "defendant's firearms" shall, if the defendant is a licensed firearms dealer, only include firearms in the defendant's personal firearms collection pursuant to 27 CFR § 478.125a (relating to personal firearms collection).
(7.1) If the defendant is a licensed firearms dealer, ordering the defendant to follow such restrictions as the court may require concerning the conduct of his business, which may include ordering the defendant to relinquish any Federal or State license for the sale, manufacture or importation of firearms as well as firearms in the defendant's business inventory. In restricting the defendant pursuant to this paragraph, the court shall make a reasonable effort to preserve the financial assets of the defendant's business while fulfilling the goals of this chapter.
(8) Directing the defendant to pay the plaintiff for reasonable losses suffered as a result of the abuse, including medical, dental, relocation and moving expenses; counseling; loss of earnings or support; costs of repair or replacement of real or personal property damaged, destroyed or taken by the defendant or at the direction of the defendant; and other out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained. In addition to out-of-pocket losses, the court may direct the defendant to pay reasonable attorney fees. An award under this chapter shall not constitute a bar to litigation for civil damages for injuries sustained from the acts of abuse giving rise to the award or a finding of contempt under this chapter.
(9) Directing the defendant to refrain from stalking or harassing the plaintiff and other designated persons as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 2709 (relating to harassment) and 2709.1 (relating to stalking).
(10) Granting any other appropriate relief sought by the plaintiff.
(b) Identifying information.--Any order issued under this section shall, where furnished by either party, specify the Social Security number and date of birth of the defendant.

(c) Mutual orders of protection.--Mutual orders of protection shall not be awarded unless both parties have filed timely written petitions, complied with service requirements under section 6106 (relating to commencement of proceedings) and are eligible for protection under this chapter. The court shall make separate findings and, where issuing orders on behalf of both petitioners, enter separate orders.

(d) Duration and amendment of order or agreement.--
A protection order or approved consent agreement shall be for a fixed period of time not to exceed three years. The court may amend its order or agreement at any time upon subsequent petition filed by either party.

(e) Extension of protection orders.--

(1) An extension of a protection order may be granted:
(i) Where the court finds, after a duly filed petition, notice to the defendant and a hearing, in accordance with the procedures set forth in sections 6106 and 6107, that the defendant committed one or more acts of abuse subsequent to the entry of the final order or that the defendant engaged in a pattern or practice that indicates continued risk of harm to the plaintiff or minor child.
(ii) When a contempt petition or charge has been filed with the court or with a hearing officer in Philadelphia County, but the hearing has not occurred before the expiration of the protection order, the order shall be extended, at a minimum, until the disposition of the contempt petition and may be extended for another term beyond the disposition of the contempt petition.
(2) Service of an extended order shall be made in accordance with section 6109 (relating to service of orders).
(3) There shall be no limitation on the number of extensions that may be granted.
(f) Support procedure.--The domestic relations section shall enforce any support award in a protection order where the plaintiff files a complaint for support under subsection (a)(5).

(g) Notice.--Notice shall be given to the defendant, in orders issued under this section, stating that violations of an order will subject the defendant to arrest under section 6113 (relating to arrest for violation of order) or contempt of court under section 6114 (relating to contempt for violation of order or agreement). Resumption of coresidency on the part of the plaintiff and defendant shall not nullify the provisions of the court order.

(h) Title to real property unaffected.--No order or agreement under this chapter shall in any manner affect title to any real property.


History

1990, Dec. 19, P.L. 1240, No. 206, § 2, effective in 90 days. Amended 1993, June 23, P.L. 124, No. 28, § 6, imd. effective; 1994, Oct. 6, P.L. 574, No. 85, § 1, effective in 60 days; 1997, Dec. 19, P.L 549, No. 58, § 12, effective in 60 days; 2000, May 10, P.L. 35, No. 10, imd. effective; 2002, Dec. 9, P.L. 1759, No. 218, § 7, effective in 60 days; 2005, Nov. 10, P.L. 335, No. 66, § 8, effective in 180 days [May 9, 2006].