If you are in a relationship that is unsafe, it is critical to remove yourself and your children and immediately get to safety. Here in Bucks and Montgomery Counties of PA, we have many resources available to assist you. Physical and psychological abuse can have serious long-term consequences on your life. Our attorneys want to make sure you have the legal protection you need.
How do I get a restraining order in Bucks and Montgomery Counties?
A Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order, commonly called a restraining order, is a court order that raises the legal stakes for your abuser. Once obtained, if the person contacts you, comes to your home, place of work, or within a certain distance of you, he or she risks arrest and criminal penalties. If you need a PFA or feel you’ve been wrongly accused of abuse and are the subject of a PFA, Karen Ann Ulmer can help.
What’s the Process to Get a Protection From Abuse Order?
A PFA can be sought by:
- Anyone 18 or older, and
- A teen or a child accompanied by a parent, an adult household member, or a guardian ad litem
You (the plaintiff or petitioner) can start the process to obtain a temporary PFA at a police station or courthouse depending on the time and day. As the plaintiff, you can fill out a petition. You will need to:
- Explain why you need protection
- Describe the abuse you’ve suffered
- State what protection you seek
A judge will consider your petition and may have additional questions for you at a hearing. The judge will either grant you a temporary PFA or deny your request. If it’s granted, a final hearing will be scheduled within ten business days.
This temporary PFA provides you legal protection through the date of the final hearing. The county sheriff’s office will serve copies of the petition, the order, and a notice of the final hearing on the accused abuser (the defendant).
The PFA can make it illegal for the person to contact, harass, or abuse you or your children. It could order the abuser to move out of your home, return your personal property, and grant you temporary custody of your children. Additionally, your abuser may be required to surrender all weapons including guns and ammunition.
What Role Does a Judge Play in the Process?
You and the defendant will have an opportunity to come before the judge at the final hearing. Both can tell their sides of the story and have legal representation. If you and the defendant agree on the terms of an order, the judge will review it and may make it official, with or without changes.
Without an agreement, the judge decides what to do based on the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing. The plaintiff must show he or she fears serious and imminent harm. There must be evidence showing a recent violent incident, prior violence, or firearm ownership for a court to issue the order. The judge can deny the petition or create a final PFA, which could last for up to three years.
Where Does a PFA Apply?
The Protection from Abuse Order is valid everywhere in Pennsylvania, in every state, and on tribal lands. Protection orders from other parts of the US are also valid in Pennsylvania due to federal law. Defendants’ names are put into a law enforcement database, making it easier for police to check if you have a protection order and whether the defendant is violating it. If you travel or move, have a copy of the order with you to help prove your status.
Compassionate Advocacy From Lawyers Who Care
Everyone should feel safe and secure in their own homes. If you or someone you know feels threatened, contact us immediately. If you are a defendant in a PFA case, schedule an appointment to discuss the situation, how Pennsylvania law may apply in your case, and how we can help. Learn more by calling our office at (215)515-5172, booking an appointment online, or by filling out our contact form. We can meet in our office or speak with you by phone.