Chester County is home to a population of over 500,000 residents. Overseeing legal matters in the county is the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. All matters of Family Law are handled in the court's Domestic Relations division. This includes disputes of domestic abuse and the issuance of Protection From Abuse orders. The court accepts petitions from 8:30 am until 3:30 pm Monday through Friday, and provides direction for the service of an emergency PFA as well.
Obtaining a Protection From Abuse Order In Chester County
Chester County offers a simple way for victims of abuse to obtain a Protection From Abuse order. A PFA order can grant a victim of abuse relief from their abuser, should they head into court and file the petition. The victim will be known as the petitioner, and the abuser will likely be referred to as the defendant throughout the petitioning process. The petitioning process takes about 2 hours, and the employees of the court will direct the petitioner through the overall process up until the point that it is signed by the judge and submitted to the county sheriff for service to the defendant. If the petitioner seeks to obtain a PFA outside of the court's normal business hours, a Magisterial District Judge will be able to grant a temporary, emergency PFA that expires on the next business day. A local police department can assist petitioners with this while the court is closed.
When petitioning, the petitioner may meet with the judge, who will ask questions about the situation, and then make a decision. At this stage, if the judge approves, the PFA order is still temporary, and will expire after a "final hearing" takes place. Also, even if a temporary PFA order is not given by the judge, a final hearing will still be set. This will give the petitioner another chance to make a claim. Final hearings are typically set within ten days of the issuance of the initial PFA order. Final hearings will have both the petitioner and the defendant present so that both sides may present and/or defend their respective claims.
Filing a petition for a PFA order differs in one very significant way from a final hearing. Hearings will be legal proceedings, therefore it is highly recommended to enlist the services of an experienced Chester County PFA attorney. Either side must support their case with proper evidence and testimony. The judge will hear both sides and render a decision based on what was presented in court. Because of this, retaining an attorney to formulate and present proper argument and defend one's own side of the case is of utmost importance. Without one, the opposing party is likely to win their case.
If you or a loved one is seeking a PFA order or engaged in other matters of Family Law in Chester County contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.