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How to protect yourself from an abusive spouse

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2023 | Divorce |

If you are thinking about a divorce because of abuse in the relationship, you may want to consider requesting a Protection From Abuse Order. If approved, this order provides you, and your children, protection for a specified period of time.

There are certain steps you need to take to file an order, and your spouse will have the opportunity to defend his or her position.

Steps to file for a PFA

According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the first step is to go to your county courthouse and fill out the form, explaining the reasons for requesting the order and what protections you would like it to include. A judge reviews the form and, if he or she thinks there is immediate danger, will approve a temporary order.

Whether the judge approves or denies a temporary PFA, there is scheduling for a final hearing to occur within 10 days. Your spouse will receive a copy of the petition, the temporary order (if approved) and notice of the hearing.

During the final hearing, both you and your spouse have the opportunity to appear before the judge and state your sides. The judge then approves or denies a final PFA, which is in effect for up to three years.

Orders covered by a protection order

The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania discusses the types of protection the order may provide. They include:

  • Refrain from any contact with you or your children
  • Move out of the shared residence
  • Attend abuse counseling
  • Grant you temporary child custody
  • Pay certain expenses

Penalties for violating the order

If your spouse violates any of the protections outlined in the order, you should call the police. Violation can result in arrest and possible fines, incarceration or both.