I just got served with a PFA, what do I do?
If you have been served with an emergency or temporary PFA, you should comply with all provisions. Do not have any contact with the plaintiff, either directly or through third parties, unless you are explicitly permitted to under the terms of the Order. If a final hearing has been scheduled, you should speak with an attorney to understand the process and how you can best prepare. Any violations of a PFA can be punished by indirect criminal contempt, which may result in jail time, so it is imperative that you understand your rights.
How do I get a PFA?
Each county in Pennsylvania has slightly different procedures for obtaining a PFA. In most counties, during a normal business day, you can obtain a temporary PFA at the courthouse. The exact process and procedure might differ, but there are usually staff members available to assist you with the petition and paperwork. If abuse occurs in the evening, on the weekend, or on a holiday, a magistrate can often issue an emergency PFA which would be in effect until the end of the next business day. The police can often assist you with providing information on where to go to obtain this emergency PFA.
My neighbor has been harassing me, can I file for a PFA?
Pennsylvania law requires that there be a specific relationship between the victim and perpetrator of abuse before someone might qualify to obtain a PFA. If your neighbor is not a current or former spouse or intimate partner, or is not a family member by blood or marriage, you likely cannot obtain a PFA against them. There may be other resources and avenues available to you to get relief in this situation, but a PFA might not be the answer.
Legal disclaimer: The information provided in these FAQs is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for personal legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Further, legal advice cannot be given without full consideration of all relevant information relating to an individual’s specific situation. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied.