Is it Easy to Get a Restraining Order in Pennsylvania?

If you have been the victim of harassment or abuse from your spouse or domestic partner, from a family member or household member, or from anybody with whom you have a child, the state of Pennsylvania provides you the right to protect yourself through seeking a restraining order. The abuse that warrants the issuance of a restraining order, or Protection From Abuse Order (PFA), includes actual, attempted or repeated thread of bodily injury; rape; child abuse; involuntary deviate sexual intercourse; sexual or indecent assault; false imprisonment; or incest. Once a PFA has been issued by a judge, the person who has been abusing you is ordered to cease and desist, and often to stay completely out of your immediate vicinity. The process requires that you follow several steps, but because the state has an interest in providing protections to victims those steps are relatively easy to follow.

The first step in obtaining a restraining order is to go to your county’s Court of Common Pleas, or if the courthouse is closed to go to your local police station. In both cases, you should bring along identification and any information that supports your allegation of abuse such as medical or police records, then fill out a form with the details of what you have been suffering. Once your form has been completed it will be reviewed by a judge, who will determine whether a temporary restraining order will be provided. If you had to go to the police station, the petition will be provided to a magisterial district judge In some cases a temporary order will be put in place, and in all cases, the judge will also set a date within ten days for a hearing on your petition. This process is free.

Once you have received a copy of the petition that bears a hearing date, as well as the temporary restraining order if it has been issued, you need to go to the Sheriff’s department and ask that the paperwork be served to the person who has been abusing you. This notification must be completed in order for the restraining order to be enforceable.

If you are not safe in the company of your partner or family member, obtaining a restraining order is a challenging but necessary step. For assistance with the various steps that you need to follow in order to ensure your wellbeing and move forward with your life, our attorneys can help. Contact us today if you need assistance in obtaining a restraining order or in any other family law matters.