Father's Day is an opportunity for children to show appreciation for the fathers in their lives and strengthen the bond between them. Father figures are an essential part of a child's development. Parents should nurture father-child relationships, especially if the child's parents are separated or divorced. But when there is a “protection from abuse” order against the father, celebrating dad can pose challenges.
What is a ‘Protection from Abuse Order?
A protection from abuse (PFA) order is a type of restraining order that provides victims of domestic violence (plaintiffs) with legal protection against their abuser (defendants). A person can only file a PFA against a member of the family or household, an intimate partner, or the co-parent of a child.
PFAs in Pennsylvania can also include certain restrictions, such as:
- Prohibit the defendant from contacting the plaintiff
- Prevent the defendant from entering the plaintiff's home, school, job
Under a PFA in Pennsylvania, a judge can grant temporary custody of the children to one parent and set up either supervised or unsupervised visitation for the other parent, provided it doesn't conflict with the PFA order. For example, some PFAs protect children by preventing contact with an abusive parent.
If the court finds no abuse of the children, a PFA order will not supersede the defendant's custody and visitation rights.
How to Safely Celebrate Father's Day With a PFA
If the PFA does not prevent the father from having unsupervised visitation with the children, both parties must honor the arrangement, including on Father's Day. When parents make handoffs of children and one parent is under a PFA, parents must not violate the terms of the PFA. For example, if the PFA bars the father from entering the plaintiff's house, the handoff of the children must not take place in the plaintiff's home. Choosing a neutral location, such as a park or a busy restaurant, is best. Both parents should also commit to being on time for handoffs and pickups.
Some PFAs allow the defendant to see the children, but only if another adult supervises the visits. In this case, a judge may assign a social worker, family friend, or relative to monitor the defendant's visitation with the children. The monitor is someone both parents can agree on.
It's important to remember that PFAs are put in place to protect the parent and the children from abuse. If either parent violates the terms of the PFA for any reason, it could still result in the defendant's arrest and potential punishment.
Navigating PFAs During Father's Day
Protection from abuse orders protect victims of domestic violence from harm. But they can make holiday gatherings challenging. But it can make holiday gatherings difficult. If you or a loved one is involved in matters of Family Law in Pennsylvania, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Family Law Team by phone or online today.