Protection From Abuse Series (Part 1)

February 5, 2024 | By Adam Tanker

What is a Protection From Abuse Order and How Does it Work


Domestic violence is a dangerous reality for many Pennsylvania residents. Outside of criminal court, relief from domestic violence can be obtained by requesting a Protection From Abuse Order (“PFA”). The PFA is a civil remedy that seeks to protect persons who have experienced actual or threatened acts of physical and sexual violence. The PFA creates a “bubble” around the abused party whereby the abuser cannot have any contact whatsoever with the abused party, directly, indirectly, or through 3rd parties.

The PFA may also modify custody, grant exclusive possession of the marital residence to the abused party, order the abuser to surrender all firearms, order the abuser to stay away from certain associates of the abused party and certain locations that the abused party frequents and award temporary support and other monetary relief.      

In order to be eligible for a PFA, the abuser must be:

  • a family member,
  • a household member,
  • a sexual or intimate partner, or
  • share biological children with the abused party.

As recently as 2015, the PFA statute was expanded to allow individuals who have been exposed to sexual violence, harassment, stalking, and intimidation from someone other than a household member, family member, or intimate partner to seek protection.

Additionally, the abused party must prove that they have suffered abuse, which is specifically defined in the PFA statute as:

  • Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury.
  • Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
  • The infliction of false imprisonment.
  • Physically or sexually abusing minor children.
  • Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person, without proper authority, under circumstances that place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.

Once a PFA is in place, which can last anywhere from 1 month to 3 years, there are certain remedies that the abuser faces in the event the PFA is violated, which include fines of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to 6 months. In addition, the police can enforce the terms of the PFA.

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.

About the Authors

Adam Tanker


Doylestown Family Law Litigation Attorney Adam is a highly regarded and seasoned family law litigation attorney serving the greater Doylestown, PA area.  His practice includes prenuptial agreements, custody, domestic abuse and protection...

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