As a Pennsylvania resident who has a genuine fear of someone with whom you used to share a relationship, you may be exploring your options and trying to determine what you might be able to do to protect yourself or your child. In Pennsylvania, you may be able to obtain at least temporary protection against your abuser by securing what is known as a protection from abuse.
While the content of a protection from abuse order can vary to some degree based on the specifics of your situation and whether the order applies to just you, or you and your child or children, such an order will typically establish guidelines your abuser must abide by. For example, it may ban your abuser from contacting or harassing you, or you and your child, or it may force your abuser to return certain belongings of yours or your child.
Who can file for a protection from abuse?
In order to successfully obtain a protection from abuse in Pennsylvania, you will need to demonstrate that you have some sort of existing relationship with the person you file it against. In other words, you cannot file for a protection from abuse from, say, a neighbor you do not otherwise know who is harassing you, or even a roommate, unless you and that roommate have an existing intimate relationship.
So, who can you file a protection from abuse order against? You can do so against intimate partners, spouses and same-sex partners, for starters, and you can also do so against a parent, child or other blood relative, or a relative through marriage.
How to obtain a protection from abuse
To request a protection from abuse, you will need to fill out a petition outlining why you want protection and the types of protection you seek. A judge will then review your petition and decide whether to grant you temporary protection from your abuser, and if so, he or she will set a court date where you and your accused abuser must appear. At this hearing, the judge will hear from both sides before determining whether to keep the protective order in place, and if so, for how long.
While the duration of a protection from abuse order can vary, Pennsylvania judges have the discretion of keeping one in place for up to three years.