How do I protect myself (and my family) from my physically abusive partner?

If you are the victim of abuse from your spouse or partner, you might be feeling terrified and hopeless. We can help you get immediate protection.

If the courts are closed because it's a weekend, holiday, or late at night, you can call 911 and they will give you the information for your local magistrate judge. This judge can sign an emergency order for you, which can offer protection from contact and abuse and remove the abuser from your home, even if they own the home and you do not. You can file in the county where you live or work, This order only lasts until the end of business on the next business day. It exists to protect you during the times the courts aren't open. It is free to file.

If the courts are open, you or an attorney can file a temporary order for protection and custody at the Court of Common Pleas. You can do this without your abuser being present or even notified until after the order has been granted. If the judge determines you or your children are in immediate danger and the temporary order is granted, you will have up to 10 business days before your final hearing with a judge. Make sure you carry the order with you and that anyone who watches your children also has a copy of it. A sheriff will serve the accused abuser with the court order.

During those 10 business days, your abuser is prevented from contacting (including through third parties, like your family members), stalking, or abusing you, entering your home, or seeing your kids. They can also have any known weapons taken away from them. They may have to reimburse you for any medical expenses you incurred as a result of the abuse. If they defy the court order, call the police - they can be arrested and pay a fine up to $1000 or even be sentenced to jail for up to 6 months. Even if your temporary order is not granted, you will have a final hearing in about 10 business days.

During the final hearing, the judge will review any evidence you have of the abuse to determine if the temporary order for protection should be made final. Your abuser has a right to defend him- or herself at this final hearing. If the order is granted, it can last up to 3 years. It can include child and/or spousal support and damages, or payment to atone for the abuse.

If you or your children are being abused, don't wait. Call us today for a free consultation where we will advise you about the best immediate steps to take to make you and your children safe. It is also vitally important that you have a legal representative fighting for your best interests in the final hearing so that you can rest assured that you get the protection you deserve.