Please note that this is not legal advice. See our disclaimer.
If you have been the victim of domestic violence or abuse, you may believe that your best recourse is to obtain a restraining order, limiting the access or contact of the person who abused you. This blog post outlines the procedure for obtaining a protective order in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, including who may seek a protective order and who you may seek an order against.
Protective Orders in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, a court order limiting contact by one person with another is known as a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. You must be 18 years of age or an emancipated minor to seek a PFA. You may request protection for you or your minor children against any household member, including spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent or child, or anyone related to you by blood or marriage. You may also seek protection from a former intimate partner, including a same sex partner. Even if you don’t fall into one of those categories, you should always call the police if you are in immediate danger.
To initiate the process, you must complete and file the PFA petition. This petition will require that you name the abuser and identify yourself. You will also be asked to identify the nature of the abuse. The judge will listen to and weigh all the evidence, looking to determine whether there is a risk of further abuse if the order is not put in place. The standard that the judge will apply is a “mere preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the judge must simply determine whether the evidence suggests that it is more likely than not that you will be at risk for abuse. If the judge believes that you or your children are in imminent danger, a temporary order will be issued, which will stay in effect until a full hearing is held usually (within 10 business days).
Protective Orders in New Jersey
In New Jersey, you may get a restraining order against a spouse or former spouse, any present or former member of your household (you must be 18 or an emancipated minor), against someone you are dating or have dated, or against someone with whom you are expecting to have or have had a child. This includes same-sex partners.
To begin the process in New Jersey, you must also file an application for a restraining order. You do not need to appear in front of a judge to have a temporary restraining order put in place. If the judge determines, based on your affidavit or sworn statement, that you are in danger of domestic violence, the judge may issue an immediate temporary restraining order. A full hearing must then be scheduled before a final restraining order may be granted.
Contact Hornstine Law, LLC
At Hornstine Law, LLC, we have decades of family and criminal law experience. Our attorneys work with people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, using our knowledge, skill, experience and resources to help you get the outcome you want. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at888-652-0384 (in New Jersey at609-523-2222).