Protection Orders

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Local court contact information.


How to file a PFA

Recognizing signs of abuse

Creating a safety plan

Dial 911 for law enforcement after hours, weekends and holidays. Contact law enforcement if you need immediate protection and the courts are closed.

What if an abuser violates the protection order? Call the police immediately. The police can arrest the abuser and a contempt hearing will be held. If found in contempt of the PFA Order, the abuser can be fined up to $1,000.00 and/or incarcerated for up to six months.

Non-court related victims advocate resources:

Pennsylvania Commission Against Domestic Violence - call 1-800-799-SAFE(7233)

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape - call 1-888-772-7227



How to file for a protection order in Pennsylvania

Protection orders can be filed in four easy steps

  • Step 1: Fill out paperwork at your local courthouse

    PFA - Paperwork 300.png 

    The paperwork will ask for information about both you and the defendant, anyone else, including any children, who you want protected, and why you’re filing for a protection order.


    Language and sign language interpreter services are available for help completing forms.


    Download protection order forms in a variety of languages.

  • Step 2: Review paperwork with a judge

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    This is done in an informal hearing called the temporary hearing.

  • Step 3: Judge grants or denies temporary order

    PFA - grants or denies 300.png 

    Temporary orders are valid until the final hearing.

    • After the order is granted, the defendant will be served the paperwork by the Sheriff or other law enforcement, including the petition, temporary order and date of the final hearing
    • The defendant will not be allowed to have contact with you
    • If the judge denies the temporary order, you will still have a final hearing where testimony and evidence is presented
  • Step 4: Attend final hearing to obtain final order

    • The final hearing is scheduled within 10 business days of the temporary order hearing
    • You may bring witnesses, domestic violence advocates and/or lawyers with you
    • Final protection orders last for up to three years
    • IMPORTANT: Always carry a copy of the order at all times and make sure school, daycare, etc. also have a copy.
    • VIDEO: Learn about the hearing process including how long the protection order lasts and when the abuser must be present at the hearing

Frequently asked questions

  • What is a protection order?

    Protection orders are rules for the person hurting or threatening the victim. Filing a protection order, also known as a protection from abuse order or PFA, with PA Courts can help protect the victim and the victim’s family. If the abuser breaks these rules the person can be punished and the police can make an arrest.

  • What is considered abuse under the law?

    The occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood:

    • Causing or attempting to cause bodily injury
    • Placing someone in fear of imminent serious bodily injury
    • Rape or sexual assault
    • Stalking
    • Physically or sexually abusing a child
    • Repeatedly committing acts which place an individual in fear of bodily injury
    • Interfering with an individual's freedom of movement
    • NCEA Red Flags of Abuse
  • What if an abuser violates the protection order?

    Call the police immediately. The police can arrest the abuser and a contempt hearing will be held.

    If found in contempt of the PFA Order, the abuser can be fined up to $1,000.00 and/or incarcerated for up to six months.

  • What are the types of protection?

    Protection orders can tell the abuser to:

    • Stop abuse, threats, harassment or stalking
    • Leave your house and not enter your home, school, business or place of employment
    • No longer contact you – no texting, calling, emailing or social media
    • Relinquish weapons and/or gun permit
    • Attend batterers counseling program
    • Reimburse you for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses that were incurred as a result of the abuse
    • Grant you temporary child custody/spousal support
    • Allow the judge to grant any other relief deemed appropriate to stop the abuse

    There are three kinds of protection orders:

    1. A Protection From Abuse order, or PFA, protects someone who is being physically hurt, followed, threatened or sexually hurt by an intimate partner, dating partner or family member. 
    2. A Protection From Sexual Violence order, or SVP, is for someone who is a victim of sexual violence by someone they didn’t have an intimate relationship with, like a friend, stranger, or co-worker, and is still at risk of being hurt by that person.
    3. A Protection From Intimidation order, or PFI, is a little different because a PFI protects a minor from someone who is 18 or older who is harassing or stalking them who they do not have an intimate relationship with.

    How does the protection order hearing process work?

  • Where can victims find assistance?

    Victims can go through the process on their own or with an advocate from the local domestic violence or sexual assault program. Courthouse staff can help connect the victim with an advocate or available resources to find safe shelter.

    Legal counsel can represent a victim at no cost, but it is not required. However, advocates and courthouse staff cannot give you legal advice.

    Courthouse staff can also help with interpreter services for those people who have trouble speaking, hearing or understanding English. See the UJS notice of language rights.

  • How much does it cost to file a protection order?

    There is no cost to file for a protection order.

  • Where do victims go to file a protection order?

    Temporary and final petitions are filed at your local county courthouse. Emergency petitions (after hours, weekends, holidays) are filed in the minor courts.

    More detailed information for some counties can be found here.

Recognizing signs of abuse

Safety Planning