Domestic Violence – Protection From Abuse

What is a Protection From Abuse Order?

A Protection from Abuse Order is a document that is signed by a judge and tells your abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences.

A PFA Order offers civil legal protection from domestic violence to both women and men victims.



An Emergency PFA Order is only temporary, and will only remain in effect to protect you until 4:30 p.m. on the next business day that Family Court is open. (Family Court is open Monday through Friday, excluding holidays).

If you need urgent protection when the courts are not open (such as on a weekend, late night or holiday), call your local police department to see which magisterial district judge is on-call. He/she may be able to grant you an emergency PFA order. An Emergency PFA order is only temporary, and will only remain in effect to protect you until 4:30 p.m. on the next business day that Family Court is open. On the next day the Family Court is open, you have a chance to ask for an ex parte temporary PFA. “Ex parte” means that the judge will make this decision based only on the information you provide, without your abuser being present in court. You must present a petition to the PFA Department in the Family Law Center before the expiration of your emergency order to request continuation of your protection. 

When you ask the court for a PFA, a judge will give you an ex parte temporary PFA if he/she finds that you are in danger of further domestic abuse and need immediate protection. This temporary order will only last until your full court hearing when your abuser has an opportunity to attend court and present his/her information.

What to do with your Emergency PFA Order

You will be given 3 copies of the Emergency PFA Order.

  • One copy is for you to keep.
  • One copy is for you to give to the police department where you live.
  • The third copy is for you to take to the police department where the defendant lives so that the police can serve the copy on the defendant.

If this Emergency PFA Order is violated, please immediately contact the police department where the violation occurred.

    How to Apply for a More Permanent PFA Order

    In order to apply for a more permanent PFA Order, you must report to Family Law Center between 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The Family Law Center is open Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. 

    Family Law Center
    PFA Department
    440 Ross Street, Suite 301
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219

    PFA Intake Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  


    Things to Know When Applying for a Family Court PFA Order:

    You should arrive at Family Court as early as possible.

    After completing paperwork, a hearing will be held on the same day.

    A free children’s playroom is available in case you need to bring your children with you.

    SVPO – Sexual Violence Protection Order

    A Sexual Violence Protection Order is designed to protect victims of sexual violence from further abuse and/or intimidation by their abuser, regardless of whether criminal charges have been filed against the perpetrator.

    Similar in many ways to a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA), the key difference lies in the relationship between the abuser and the victim. While PFAs require an intimate or household relationship between the two parties, a SVPO does not and is available to victims of sexual violence who are at continued risk of harm from their perpetrator.