During October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, recent posts on Family Matters have explored aspects protection from abuse orders in Pennsylvania.  Like Pennsylvania, Delaware can issue civil protection from abuse orders (“PFA”).

For those unfamiliar with the process in Delaware, a PFA is a civil order issued by the Family Court.  PFA Orders are designed to prevent one person from committing acts of abuse against another. Acts of abuse include, but are not limited to, physical abuse, placing someone in fear of physical harm, intentionally or recklessly damaging property and any other conduct that a reasonable person under the circumstances would find threatening or harmful.

If a PFA petition is granted the Court may entered various forms of relief.  For example, the Court may:

(1) Prohibit the respondent from committing acts of domestic violence;
(2) Prohibit the respondent from contacting or attempting to contact the petitioner (including but phone, text or email);
(3) Grant exclusive possession of the residence to the petitioner;
(4) Order that the petitioner be given temporary possession of specified personal property;
(5) Grant temporary custody of the parties’ children to the petitioner;
(6) Require the respondent to pay support for the petitioner and/or for the parties’ children;
(7) Order the respondent to pay to the petitioner monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of domestic violence;
(8) Require the respondent to temporarily relinquish to law enforcement his/her firearms and to refrain from purchasing or receiving additional firearms for the duration of the order;
(9) Issue an order directing any law-enforcement agency to forthwith search for and seize firearms of the respondent; and
(10) Require the respondent to participate in treatment or counseling programs.

A complete list of the relief available may be found in 10 Del. C. § 1045.

The PFA process can be daunting.  However, it is important for victims of domestic violence to know they are not alone.  The Family Court has compiled helpful lists of resources and service providers. These resources, including attorneys, can help victims navigate the PFA process.

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.


 Leslie Spoltore focuses her practice on family law, handling all aspects of the Delaware Family Court’s jurisdiction including, divorce, alimony, property distribution, prenuptial agreements, adoption, guardianship, permanent guardianship, child support, child custody, protection from abuse. She works out of the firm’s Wilmington, DE office and can be reached at 302-840-1110 or at Leslie.Spoltore@Obermayer.com