Family Law Unit

Protection from Abuse

Violence at home happens between couples, parents and children, and other family relationships in all communities and far too often.

Violence can look like physical assault and intimidation, sexual abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse, stalking or the threat of any of these.   

 A Protection from Abuse Order, often called a PFA, is a paper that is signed by a judge and tells an abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences. A Protection from Abuse Order can say that your abuser must: 

  • Stay away from you, your work, school, and home,
  • Not bother you or your children,
  • Move out of your home, even if they own it,
  • Give you Temporary custody order,
  • Make the abuser pay for child support, and
  • Reimburse you for any financial loss as a result of the abuse.

In addition to Protection from Abuse Order, there are two other orders including Protection from Sexual Violence Order (PSVO) and Protection from Intimidation Order (PFI).

  • PSVO is for survivors of sexual violence against their abuser who is not a family member or former or current intimate partner. 
  • PFIs are for minors filing against adults who have harassed or stalked them.

Philadelphia Legal Assistance helps survivors of violence file for and obtain Protection from Abuse Orders. We do not assist PFA defendants in their PFA defense. 

PFAs provide protections to people who have experienced abuse by a former intimate partner or family member. You may have experienced abuse, as defined by the Protection from Abuse Act if:

  • Injured you or is trying to injure you (physically or sexually).
  • Is threatening to harm you.
  • Is preventing you from going somewhere.
  • Is abusing or has abused minor children (physically or sexually).
  • Is stalking you in a way that makes you feel afraid of getting hurt.

You can file for a PFA at the following locations and times:

Family Court

1501 Arch St.
Domestic Violence Intake Unit
8th floor
Phone: (215) 686-3512
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Court issues a limited number of Order’s each day. We suggest that you arrive prior to 10:00 AM when possible.

Criminal Justice Center

1301 Filbert St.
Room B-03
Hours: Open for emergency requests 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. on weekdays, and 24 hours on weekends. When the Family Court building is open, this location is not open. Do not go here during business hours during a non-holiday.

Learn more about PFAs in Philadelphia here: PFA Brochure

Intake Process

Family Law Hotline

Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 215-981-3838.

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