Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania Family Law: What Is Reasonable Fear?
June 20, 2020
When you read a news story about a woman murdered by her ex-husband or ex-boyfriend, you usually find out that there were warning signs long before the crime took place. Perhaps the victim changed residences several times so that her ex could not find her. Maybe she had confided in her friends and family that she was afraid of her ex, or even if she didn’t, maybe they feared for her safety. Even if the ex had never physically harmed the victim before, he had made threats or otherwise given the victim reason to fear that he would harm her if he had the opportunity. Therefore, judges do not want to wait until it is too late to protect people from domestic violence. It is possible to get a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order even if your ex has never physically injured you. If you are going through a divorce or custody battle and fear that you have yet to see the worst of your ex’s violent behavior, the family law attorneys at Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh can help you get a PFA order to protect you from domestic violence.
Reasonable Fear Is Enough to Justify Granting a PFA Order
If there is outside documentation of domestic violence, you can use it as evidence in your motion for a PFA order; this evidence includes police reports and medical records. Of course, you would be wise to get a PFA order before the violence escalates to where there are serious physical injuries or criminal charges. To get a PFA order, you need only persuade the court, through your testimony, that you have reason to fear that your ex will harm you. If your ex is scary when he gets angry, even if he has never directed a scary level of anger at you, that could be all the evidence you need to get a PFA order.
What happens if you say that you have reasonable fear that your ex will harm you, but your ex says that your fear is unreasonable? It is the judge’s decision whether your fear is reasonable enough to warrant granting a PFA order. You should go into detail about specific incidents that made you fear that your ex would harm you, such as times when your ex threatened you or punched a wall. If your ex appeals the PFA order, the appeals court will review the facts of the case in the way that is most favorable to you and will grant you every reasonable inference.
Remember that a PFA order does not automatically terminate your ex’s parental rights. Depending on the history of violence or threats between you, your ex might be able to continue having supervised or unsupervised parenting time while the PFA is in effect.
Iwanyshyn & Associates Helps Stop and Prevent Domestic Violence
Your physical safety and that of your children is the highest priority when determining co-parenting arrangements. Contact Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh & Western PA for help getting a PFA order. 🡺 412-419-3448