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PFA Orders

Three Types of PFA Orders

There are three types of PFA orders in Pennsylvania.

PFA stands for Protection From Abuse.

A PFA is a restraining order that prohibits the alleged abuser from having any contact with the alleged victim.

Under Pennsylvania law, abuse is defined broadly. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats of violence, harassment, and stalking.

A person seeking protection from a family member or current or former sexual partner may obtain one of the following three types of PFA orders.

First, an Emergency PFA will last through a weekend or holiday when courts are generally closed. It expires automatically.

Second, a Temporary PFA triggers a hearing date that is supposed to occur within ten days. In Allegheny County and other counties surrounding Pittsburgh, courts grant more than 90 percent of requests for a Temporary PFA.

Third, a Final PFA may be obtained by consent, failing to appear, or after a hearing before a judge. A Final PFA may remain in place for up to three years.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation at PFA hearings. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Despite Harms, Parents Continue to Spank Kids

Parents should not use physical punishment on their kids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A growing body of research demonstrates that physical punishment is actually harmful to children.

Spanking and other forms of severe discipline – such as verbally berating or humiliating a child – have been repeatedly linked to behavioral, emotional, psychological, and academic problems.

But spanking is still prevalent in American families and legal in all states.

About two-thirds of Americans agreed that “a good, hard spanking” is sometimes necessary to discipline a child, according to a recent national survey.

Spivak Law Firm handles family law and criminal defense with a special focus on child custody and Protection From Abuse (PFA). To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

What is an Emergency PFA?

A person seeking protection from an abuser may obtain an Emergency PFA even when courts are generally closed.

In Allegheny County, local magistrates and a night court judge are available to grant Emergency PFAs at any time, including: on weekends, during holidays, and late at night.

An Emergency PFA expires when courts resume their regular business hours. Therefore, an Emergency PFA granted on Saturday night will generally expire the following Monday.

A person who obtains an Emergency PFA will often return to Court during regular business hours to request a Temporary PFA, which will trigger a hearing date so a judge may determine whether a Final PFA is warranted.

A Final PFA can last up to three years.

The person accused of abuse does not receive any notice or opportunity to defend against the Emergency PFA or Temporary PFA.

Defendants are given the opportunity to challenge the abuse accusations at the Final PFA hearing before a judge.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation at PFA hearings. To speak with an experienced PFA attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Divorce: Fleeing an Abusive Spouse

There are many forms of spousal abuse: mental, emotional, physical, and sexual.

If you are the victim of spousal abuse, there are actions you can take to protect yourself.

You may file a criminal complaint with your local police department and seek to press charges if you are the victims of physical or sexual abuse. Domestic abuse charges commonly include: assault, harassment, stalking, reckless endangerment, and terroristic threats.

You may also consider filing for a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order to prohibit all contact and even have the abuser evicted from the marital residence. A PFA may be obtained on grounds of physical violence, sexual violence, harassment, or stalking.

If you are suffering mental or emotional abuse, you may request a hearing for exclusive possession of the marital residence, which would enable you to stay in your home during the divorce process and prohibit your abuser from the premises.

If you need immediate shelter from an abusive partner, there are many resources available to assist you.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation in all family law and criminal defense matters with a special focus on child custody and domestic abuse. Call us today at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Temporary PFA v. Final PFA

If you are served with a Temporary PFA, a hearing will be scheduled within 10 days.

At the hearing, a judge will hear testimony and review evidence to determine if a Final PFA is warranted.

Most requests for a Temporary PFA are granted. No judge wants to deny a person’s request for protection then find out later that the person seeking help was seriously harmed.

The chances of obtaining a Final PFA are significantly lower, especially if you have an experienced PFA defense attorney.

The Final PFA represents the first time in the process that the defendant can push back on the abuse allegations.

The defendant can testify, cross-examine the accuser, call witnesses to the stand, and provide documentary evidence for the court to review.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong representation at PFA hearings in Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties, including: Allegheny, Armstrong, Crawford, Beaver, Buter, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset. Venango, Washington and Westmoreland.

For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Final PFA: A Life-Long Record of Abuse

Many people who are served with a Temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order make the mistake of not taking it seriously.

They might not hire an attorney. This is mistake because the alleged victim will almost certainly have an experienced trial lawyer. Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties have local nonprofit organizations that provide free lawyers for people alleging abuse.

Some defendants do not even show up to court for the Final PFA hearing. This is a mistake because failing to appear for the hearing will usually result in a maximum three-year Final PFA against you.

All defendants should have an experienced PFA attorney evaluate their case even if they no longer want to have contact with the person alleging abuse.

A Final PFA creates a permanent record of abusive behavior.

If you’ve been served with a PFA, call Spivak Law Firm today. For a free consultation, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Hearing: Do I Need A Lawyer?

Q: I’ve been served with a PFA. Do I need an attorney?

A: Yes.

In Pittsburgh and surrounding counties, a free attorney is provided to anyone alleging abuse in PFA Court.

Therefore, if you are a PFA defendant, you should level the playing field by hiring an attorney to represent you.

Otherwise, you will be negotiating with and potentially facing off in court against a seasoned PFA lawyer.

A Final PFA carries significant consequences.

You may be evicted from your home and restricted from your children. You may lose your job. You could even lose your liberty and go to jail if accused of violating the PFA.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense at Final PFA hearings. If necessary, we subpoena documents and witnesses. We are experienced trial lawyers.

We offer a free consultation for PFA matters and generally charge a flat fee so our clients know upfront exactly how much our representation will cost.

For more information, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Hearings: Child Testimony

A child under 13-years-old who alleges physical or sexual abuse may not have to testify at a Protection From Abuse (PFA) hearing under Pennsylvania Law.

The Tender Years Hearsay Act allows a psychologist or caseworker from Children Youth and Families (CYF) to testify on the child’s behalf.

The purpose of the Act is to protect children from the added trauma of appearing in court to describe the details of the alleged assault.

New legislation may expand the Act to include children under 17-years-old.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania opposes the bill on grounds that it violates the defendant’s right to due process.

Courts heavily rely on other professionals to determine whether abuse on a child actually occurred.

There may be a forensic interview conducted by a child abuse specialist in the presence of a police detective and a CYF caseworker.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law and criminal defense with a special focus on PFA, domestic abuse and high-conflict child custody.

Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Domestic Abuse and Mass Shootings

Experts say there are striking parallels between the factors that drive domestic violence and mass shootings.

FBI data on mass shootings from 2009 to 2015 show that 21 percent of the attackers had previously been charged with domestic violence.

For instance, Omar Mateen, the gunman in the nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, had reportedly beaten and attempted to control his ex-wife during their brief marriage.

“Take the dynamic of coercive violence to its most horrible extreme,” according to an article in The New York Times, “and it looks an awful lot like how the Islamic State treats women. It is intimate violence on an industrial scale.”

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law and criminal defense with a special focus on domestic abuse.

Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Tracking PFA Defendants

Under Pennsylvania law, a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order carries serious consequences.

It may evict you from your home, restrict you from your children, and even lead to your arrest.

New legislation may further strengthen the law by requiring PFA defendants to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Dozens of other states allow GPS monitoring for domestic-violence suspects.

In Pennsylvania, such devices are commonly used for criminal defendants.

PFAs are administered by family courts, though violating a PFA order may lead to criminal charges including Indirect Criminal Contempt, which carries a maximum six-month jail sentence.

The legislation regarding electronic monitoring comes on the heels of the 2018 law requiring a person under an active PFA order to turn over their firearms to local law enforcement within 24 hours.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation at PFA hearings. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.