You breathed a sigh of relief after obtaining a PFA against your abusive ex, feeling safer than you have in a long time. But now you're hearing that your ex is out on the dating scene again and the thought of another person experiencing what you did makes you uneasy. Do you have any legal or ethical obligation to tell your ex's new partner or generally make it known that you have a PFA against your ex?
Obligations to Disclose a PFA
You are within your rights to tell whomever you see fit about the PFA. You should probably tell family and close friends, so they know that your ex is not allowed to be anywhere near you. Depending on the terms of the order, it may be a good idea to inform your employer or the authorities at your child's school.
However, you have no legal or ethical obligation to tell anyone about a PFA, including a former partner's new love interest. While your experience with your ex has made you understandably worried for any person they might become involved with, telling the new partner or making the PFA generally known could have significant downsides.
If you spread the word about the PFA to warn off any of your ex's potential love interests, you might inflame your ex's anger and jeopardize your safety. You need to seriously consider the risks to your own safety–and that of your children, if you have any–before letting slip any information about the PFA.
What's more, your ex is the one who has an ethical responsibility to inform their dating partners about the PFA. If they are taking the relationship seriously and trying to establish trust with their new partner, they will inform that person at the right time. If you tell the dating partner about the PFA or share the information generally before your ex has the chance, you may be interfering with your ex's chance to grow and move on with their life in a healthy way.
Deciding to Disclose
In some cases, you might decide that it's worth the risk to let people know about the PFA. For example, if you have heard or seen that your ex is up to their old abusive ways with their new partner, or if their new partner has children you believe are at high risk of being abused, you may decide it's important to speak up.
If you go this route, you may want to discreetly inform a person the love interest knows and trusts about the PFA. Keep in mind there's a chance that the new partner might not appreciate receiving the information and think that you're just trying to cause trouble.
Hire a Pennsylvania PFA Lawyer
If you have petitioned for a PFA or want to update or modify the PFA, it's essential to speak to a domestic violence lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have years of experience handling domestic violence cases and a strong track record of delivering results. Contact us today for a case consultation at (888) 535-3686.