Philadelphia county has over 1.5 million residents and is home to the largest city in Pennsylvania. The city itself experiences over 100,000 reported emergency calls involving domestic violence each year. Currently, there are only two women's shelters serving Philadelphia's city proper. Philadelphia County's Court of Common Pleas serves all needs of victims of domestic violence through its Domestic Relations division. Along with the other Family Law services provided by the court, the Domestic Relations division also handles the issuance and requests for PFA orders.
Requesting a PFA in Philadelphia County
When someone wishes to request a PFA in Philadelphia county, there is a relatively simple process. This is done for the ease of any victims to get a response and action quickly. It is important to remember that in the event of an emergency, it is best to contact emergency responders through 9-1-1. This way, if an emergency response is necessary, the authorities are informed and following the response, they can direct the victim to the process for requesting a PFA.
If a victim has an opportunity to got to court to request a PFA, they need to fill out the required form and deliver it to a representative of the Domestic Relations division in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The petition must be filed with the original and two copies. It is important to understand that a temporary order will not be granted if the plaintiff does not make out an adequate claim for a PFA. If a temporary order is issued, the defendant must be served the PFA, through either the police or another server. If the defendant cannot be served through either of these means for whatever reason, the court may allow a different manner of serving, such as mail. Victims should carry their temporary PFA order on their person at all times. Any fees for filing a PFA and all court fees will be charged to the defendant. If a final PFA order is granted the defendant will also be charged with the fees from this filing.
When it comes time for an actual PFA hearing, both defendant and plaintiff must be in attendance. In the scope of a domestic violence claim, this does mean that the alleged abuser will have a chance to defend themselves against the victim's claims in court. For this reason, it will be beneficial to retain the services of an experienced Philadelphia PFA attorney. If the alleged abuser does not present themselves in court after being served, a bench warrant can be issued and/or a final PFA order can be issued. PFA hearings are often separate from any ongoing custody or other hearings, however, they will likely affect these proceedings, especially when it comes to custody. PFA defendants may have an order brought up in court against them when determining other matters of Family Law.
If you or a loved one is undergoing Protection From Abuse proceedings in Philadelphia County, or other matters of Family Law, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.