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How to Get a Protection from Abuse Order in Pennsylvania

June 20, 2020

Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the family courts in Pennsylvania assume that co-parents can get along well enough to treat each other with respect and communicate with each other about their children. For example, most parenting plans stipulate that Dad will drive the children to Mom’s house at the end of his parenting time and will notify her by phone if he will be late. Keeping your children away from your ex, saying bad things about your ex in front of your children, and making major parenting decisions unilaterally except in cases where the parenting plan allows this are violations of the terms of your parenting plan. Of course, when there is a history of domestic violence, the court must follow another set of rules. If you are your children have suffered violence or threats of violence at the hands of your ex, the court will do everything possible to protect you and your children from abuse, while allowing your ex to have as much contact with the children as is appropriate. (In some cases, no contact is appropriate.) If you fear that your ex will harm you or your children, the family law attorneys at Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh can help you get a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order.

A Preponderance of the Evidence

To get a PFA order, you must provide evidence that has physically harmed you or threatened to harm you. If you have medical documentation of your injuries or a police report from the domestic violence incident, it certainly strengthens your case, but you can also get a PFA order without these things; often, the plaintiff’s testimony about violence or threats is sufficient by itself to persuade the court to grant a PFA order. The courts acknowledge that domestic violence often escalates over time, and they encourage people who fear that their partners will harm them or their children to seek a PFA order before anyone gets seriously injured.

The standard of evidence for getting a PFA order is “a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the judge will grant the PFA order if it is more likely than not that there is a rea danger that your ex will harm you or your children. By contrast, a jury in a criminal trial cannot convict a defendant unless the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she is guilty. That means that, even if a criminal court found your ex found innocent of domestic violence, or even if there have been no criminal charges, you can still get a PFA order.

What About Corporal Punishment?

Pennsylvania does not have a law forbidding corporal punishment. While corporal punishment can be a divisive issue for co-parenting, it is not always grounds for a PFA order. To get a PFA order against a parent who has inflicted corporal punishment on a child, you would have to prove that the corporal punishment was excessive and unreasonable or that it caused physical injury to the child.

Iwanyshyn & Associates Helps Survivors of Domestic Violence

You and your children have a right to physical safety. Contact Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh & Western PA for help getting a PFA order. 🡺 412-419-3448