Protection From Abuse (PFA)

In the event that you need to obtain a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA) please call 9-1-1 to speak to a Shaler Township Police Officer. PFA's are only issued by the Courts, but the police officer can guide you through the process, with the assistance of a victim advocate from the Crisis Center North 412-364-5556 24 hour hotline.

The processing and presentation of Protection from Abuse (PFA) petitions, scheduling of hearings and other aspects of administering the Protection from Abuse Act are handled through the Children’s Court’s PFA Department, located in Room 3030 of the Family Law Facility.

Who Can Obtain a PFA Order?

  • A victim of abuse may file for a PFA order in the Family Division Court against an intimate partner or a family member, such as:
  • Spouses or ex-spouses
  • Current or former sexual or intimate partners (including dating relationships)
  • Family members related by blood or marriage (including parents, children, siblings) placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury

The PFA Act defines abuse as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family members or intimate partners

  • Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury or serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon
  • The infliction of false imprisonment
  • Physically or sexually abusing minor children
  • Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts towards another person, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury

What Can a PFA Order Do?

A plaintiff can ask for the following forms of relief in the PFA petition. The judge will consider the requests and may grant all or some of them in the PFA order:

  • ask the judge to order the abuser to stop threatening, abusing, harassing or stalking the victim and the victim's children
  • ask the judge to make the abuser leave the home or household (even if both parties own it or are on the lease)
  • request that the victim's new address or location remain confidential
  • ask the judge for temporary custody of the children.
  • ask the judge to prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim and the victim's children
  • ask the judge to order the abuser to turn over any firearms or other weapons
  • How to apply for a Temporary PFA Order at Family Court
  • You should arrive at Court as early as possible and expect to remain at Court for several (3-4) hours.
  • You will need to complete a PFA Petition and appear at a hearing before a Judge.
  • A free, secure children's playroom is available at the Family Court.
  • You can file for a Temporary PFA without the payment of any fees.
  • Information regarding the availability of free legal representation or other legal assistance will be provided.

Protection From Abuse (PFA) | Emergency PFA Procedures for Nights, Weekends and Holidays

Magisterial District Judges may issue Emergency PFA orders when the Family Division Court is unavailable. An Emergency PFA Order may be obtained from the Magisterial District Judge with jurisdiction on weekdays after 3:00 p.m. After 3:00 p.m., and on weekends and court holidays, an emergency PFA Order may be obtained from a Magisterial District Judge at the Municipal Courts Building, 660 First Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Emergency PFA's remain in effect until the end of the NEXT business day. 

How long does a Temporary PFA remain in effect?

If the Judge issues a Temporary PFA Order, a Final PFA Hearing will be scheduled within ten (10) business days. The Temporary PFA Order will remain in effect until the Final PFA Hearing date. In order to extend the Temporary PFA Order, you must return to Court for the Final PFA Hearing. At the Final PFA Hearing, a Final PFA Order may be issued for up to a maximum time period of three (3) years.

What happens at the Final PFA Hearing?

The Final PFA Hearing is the scheduled date and time for the Defendant to appear in court to either contest or consent to the issuance of a Final PFA Order.

  • DISMISSALS: If the Plaintiff does not appear at the Final PFA Hearing, the Temporary PFA Order may be dismissed.

  • WITHDRAWALS: The Plaintiff may withdraw the request for a PFA and the Temporary PFA Order will be terminated.

  • CONTINUANCES: A Temporary PFA Order may be extended and a new Final PFA Hearing date may be rescheduled for various reasons. Continuances may be granted when the police have been unable to locate and serve the Defendant, if the Defendant requests more time to obtain legal representation or if either party or their attorneys makes a reasonable request for a continuance.

  • FINAL PFA ORDER BY DEFAULT: If the Defendant does not appear at the Final PFA Hearing and there is sufficient proof that the Defendant received proper notice of the date and time of the hearing, then a Final PFA Order may be issued against the Defendant, for up to three (3) years.

  • FINAL PFA ORDER BY CONSENT: If the Defendant appears at the Final PFA Hearing, the parties are given the opportunity to negotiate a settlement of the case through the entry of a Final PFA Order, for up to three (3) years. Both parties must agree and give written consent to the length and terms contained in the Final PFA Order.

  • FINAL PFA ORDER AFTER A HEARING: If the parties can not negotiate a settlement of the case, a Final PFA Hearing will be conducted by a Judge. Both parties may testify and present relevant witness testimony and evidence about the case to the Judge. The Judge will decide if a Final PFA Order is issued and, if so, for how long of a time period.