In the Spotlight: Protection from Abuse

Conflict in the household is often a driving factor that leads partners to contemplate separation or divorce. Such conflict can take many forms, from overt physical abuse to ongoing, subtle emotional mistreatment. And the abuse can arise from a single moment of heated argument or it can be played out over years and result in a controlling, demeaning interpersonal relationship between partners.

Pennsylvania law has a protection from abuse (“PFA”) statute that allows an abused domestic partner to seek immediate relief from abuse. This relief can range from a stay away order to exclusive possession of the home to temporary custody of children. Oftentimes the need to seek a PFA is painfully obvious, such as when one partner strikes another or threatens physical violence. But perhaps more often the need for a PFA is less obvious and is more nuanced: the abused partner has been locked into an unhealthy relationship for years and has a visceral fear of pushing back; or the abuse is more of a subtle, albeit destructive, pattern of mistreatment.

Not only can the need for a PFA be in question, but the potential ramifications of a PFA order can also raise numerous concerns, especially where children are involved and where the PFA will lead to a separation.

Conversely, it is critical that someone faced with abuse allegations seek immediate representation. Not only are the consequences of a PFA monumental in the divorce context, but abuse allegations can have other significant legal implications as well, including but not limited to criminal charges.

Seeking legal advice about the need for and consequences of a PFA can make all the difference in obtaining positive outcomes in these trying situations. Gentile, Horoho & Avalli, P.C. has years of experience helping clients think through whether they need this type of relief or whether other approaches are more appropriate.

In those situations where relief is unfortunately needed, we have helped numerous clients present their cases to the courts to make sure that relief is ultimately granted where it is required. We have also helped numerous clients defend against what were ultimately unfounded accusations of abuse.

No person should ever suffer from abuse at the hands of their partner. GHA can help obtain the protection that an abused spouse needs, and to answer the tough, emotional questions that invariably come out of these unfortunate situations.

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