Although the PFA Act is a Pennsylvania law, every county has a different process to get a PFA order.
Even though each county is different, the legal process follows the same general pattern. The PFA process usually starts by filling out a form called a "petition" at the local county courthouse. The questions in the petition ask victims to explain why they want protection and to describe the abuse they suffered. In legal terms, the person who wants the PFA is called the "petitioner" or the "plaintiff". The
PFA petition also asks the petitioner to tell what they want the PFA to do. Usually, there are employees at the courthouse who can help to complete PFA petitions, and give information about free or low-cost legal services in the county or region. The PFA Act says that courthouse information and assistance to PFA petitioners should be provided in both English and Spanish.
After the petition is filled out, a judge will read it and may ask the plaintiff to answer a few questions. The abuser will not usually be present in the court for this. The judge may grant or deny a temporary PFA order and will schedule a date for a final hearing. A temporary PFA order will protect a victim and/or children until the date of the final hearing. This hearing will take place within 10 business days.
Even if the judge does not grant a temporary protection order, the judge will schedule a final order hearing.