Schuylkill County is a county in Northeastern Pennsylvania and is located near the Schuylkill River. It has a population of 143,049. Cases involving family law and issues including divorce, custody, visitation, child support, and protection from abuse are heard at the Schuylkill County Courthouse at 401 N 2nd Street, 1st Floor, Pottsville, PA 17901.
The courthouse is open Monday through Friday from 8.30 AM to 4.30 PM and is closed on public and official holidays.
What Kind of Family Law Cases Are Heard at The Courthouse?
The Civil Court at Schuylkill County Courthouse deals with many legal issues, including:
- Child Support
- PFA (Protection from Abuse) Order
- PFI (Protection from Intimidation) Order
- SVP (Sexual Violence Protection)
Protection From Abuse
Any family or individual who is facing domestic abuse, threats, or intimidation by their spouse, a former spouse, or someone with whom they have a household or intimate relationship can apply for a PFA (protection from abuse) order. If a PFA is served to the defendant, they will be prohibited from contacting the victim. Other relief orders can include:
- Relinquishing of firearms or weapons
- Removal of the defendant from the home
- Financial support
The judge may also award other appropriate relief at their discretion.
Filing a PFA is the best course of action if your spouse or former spouse is subjecting you to violence or threats of violence. It can keep you and your minor children safe. While filing a PFA is a simple matter of going down to the Schuylkill County Courthouse and filling up the necessary paperwork, having a family law attorney helping you can make things much more straightforward. Final PFAs are not awarded without a formal hearing where both parties have a right to be present and submit evidence to support their case. They may also cross-examine witnesses presented by the other side.
Testifying at a hearing can be daunting and complicated – and judges can sometimes be biased and may treat defendants or petitioners unfairly. Having an attorney present ensures that you do not get overwhelmed and that your rights are protected. If your attorney is involved in the case from the beginning, it also makes it easier to file an appeal later if the outcome does not go your way.
How to File a PFA Order in Schuylkill County
Residents of Schuylkill County who want protection from abuse order may approach the Schuylkill Courthouse and apply for it. The courthouse is located at:
Schuylkill County Courthouse
401 N 2nd Street, 1st Floor
Pottsville, PA 17901
Phone: (570) 628-1270
More information can be obtained here.
How to Obtain a PFA
Anyone who has been a victim of domestic violence, intimidation, or threats may apply for a PFA. It is supposed to prevent further harassment and keep the victim safe. Violating a PFA is considered a crime, and the person in question may be arrested for it.
The first type of PFA someone can ask for is a temporary PFA, and following a hearing, a permanent PFA may also be awarded subsequently.
Anyone seeking a PFA may first apply for a temporary PFA. The petitioner (person seeking a PFA) can approach the court and detail the domestic violence and harassment they went through. They may have to answer questions regarding this in order to file a PFA against the defendant (the person against whom the PFA is sought).
The court may then order a temporary PFA against the defendant. This lasts for 7-10 days and is followed by a hearing which must take place within 10 days.
You can apply for a PFA against a spouse or former spouse, a spouse or former spouse of the offender, a child of the victim or offender, a biological sibling or family member of the offender, and a current or former partner of the offender.
The petitioner will have to attend a hearing with a judge to determine whether a temporary PFA should be served. The defendant is not asked to be present at this hearing. After the hearing, the judge may decide to issue a temporary PFA, which will be served by local law enforcement to the defendant. A hearing will then be scheduled within 10 days of serving the temporary PFA.
A hearing needs to take place before a final PFA is issued. The defendant is required to be present at this hearing, and they may have an attorney present. If the defendant fails to show up at the hearing, a final PFA may be issued against them.
At this hearing, both sides may have attorneys present – and are supposed to present evidence and witnesses in support of their case. The petitioner has to prove that domestic or sexual violence occurred. The judge will then decide whether continued protection is required to prevent future abuse and violence.
The defendant is not required to prove they did not commit sexual or domestic abuse, but they may present evidence in their favor, should they choose to.
Once the judge makes their decision and a final PFA is ordered, it will be valid for up to 3 years.
Why Contact a Family Law Attorney?
If you are facing a situation where you have been served a PFA want to obtain a PFA, want to renegotiate child support, custody, or visitation rights, or have any other legal issue involving family law, it is best to involve an experienced attorney at the outset. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped many families and individuals obtain desirable outcomes in cases involving family law and can help you as well. While it is possible to navigate such cases without an attorney, you risk doing irreparable damage to your future by making missteps in advocating for yourself and presenting your case before a judge. An attorney can help you select the strongest bits of evidence and present them in the best possible way to achieve a favorable outcome.