Any party experiencing abuse by a partner/spouse (current or former), family member related by blood or marriage or person with whom you share a child may obtain a Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order. The first step is to file a PFA petition with the court. After you have filed, the court will determine if a temporary order should be put in place right away. Specifically, 23 Pa. C.S. 6107 (b) requires the court to conduct an ex parte hearing to determine if a temporary order is warranted. This hearing is only attended by the filing party. It is now required to safeguard the defendant’s due process rights by way of questioning the filing party as to the truth of their petition.
A final PFA hearing is to be held within ten (10) days. The Defendant has a right to appear at the final hearing and defend themselves. The Sheriff’s office is regularly tasked with making sure Defendants are served with notice of the final hearing date as well as any temporary order if applicable. Bucks County has a great program available where attorneys volunteer to offer pro bono representation to PFA Plaintiffs and Defendants. You may also hire a private attorney for assistance in your PFA matter. A Final PFA Order may issue for a period of up to three (3) years. While a PFA Order is initially civil in nature, violations of a PFA Order may result in criminal charges.