While the wheels of justice sometimes turn quite slowly, such is not the case with actions brought under Pennsylvania’s Protection from Abuse (PFA) Act. Assuming the victim of either an assault or a serious threat of an assault qualifies as a protected party because of a familial or intimate relationship with the alleged perpetrator, a temporary order can be issued the same day the PFA action is filed. A final hearing will then be scheduled within ten days.
At the hearing, the burden is on the petitioner to show that he or she was the victim of a physical assault or was put in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury. If the court finds this burden met, a protection order lasting up to three years can be entered. Among the forms of relief that the judge may order in addition to a complete cessation of abuse are eviction from a shared residence, relinquishment of firearms, and payment of costs. In appropriate cases, temporary support may also be ordered, along with temporary provisions for child custody.
Violation of a PFA Order can result in a variety of sanctions, including the possibility of incarceration. In the event of changed circumstances while the PFA Order is in effect, either party can petition for modification of the existing Order.