Disagreements in a relationship often lead to discord. Discord sometimes leads to a filing of a Protection From Abuse action against the alleged abuser (Defendant), by a family member or dating partner (Plaintiff). This can result in the Defendant having to stay away from the Plaintiff for up to three years. However, it is important to note that the Defendant’s other rights can be affected when a such an Order is granted by the Court, besides the ability to associate with the Plaintiff. Some of these rights are:
- The Right to Parent Your Child: The Court has the authority under 23 Pa.C.S.A. Sec. 6108(a)(4) to award the Plaintiff temporary custody of your minor child, for whom you co-parent with the Plaintiff. This doesn’t necessarily have to include provisions for partial custody or visitation by the Defendant. The Court also has authority, under 23 Pa.C.S.A. Sec. 6108(a)(1), to grant a Protection From Abuse order on behalf of minor children against the Defendant. In either case, the Defendant would have to pursue a separate custody action in order to attempt to expand custodial rights, if he/she is prevented or limited in visiting with the children under these orders.
- The Right to Live in Your House.: The Court can give the Plaintiff ‘exclusive possession’ of a house, Under 23 Pa.C.S.A. Sec. 6108(a)(2). This means that the Court can specifically exclude the Defendant from living in his/her residence, yet allow the Plaintiff to live in the house, even if the Defendant owns the house (certain limitations apply). The Court can also find that the Defendant has a duty to support the Plaintiff and/or the children in Plaintiff’s care. Therefore, the Court can Order the Defendant to provide suitable ‘alternative’ housing to the Plaintiff.
- The Obligation to Pay Child or Spousal Support : The Court has broad authority to determine what amount, if any, a Plaintiff should be awarded. This can mean money awarded by the Court to the Plaintiff, for temporary support (medical, spousal or child support) or money for damages.
- Second Amendment rights: The Defendant can be ordered by the Court to relinquish all firearms, weapons, ammunition, if it is alleged that there were weapons involved in the perpetration of abuse. The Court can also prevent a Defendant from possessing new firearms for the duration of the Protection From Abuse Order.
- Possibility of Imprisonment. If a Court finds that a Defendant violated a temporary or Final Protection From Abuse Order, as punishment, the Court can fine the Defendant up to $1,000.00 and can the Defendant can be imprisoned for a period of up to six months.
This article is intended only to provide a general, non-specific overview of one particular area of law and is not served as providing legal advice for any specific legal situation.