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Protection From Abuse Orders Can Greatly Influence Child Custody Decisions

In addition to potential jail time and fines, domestic violence charges can have serious noncriminal consequences as well. Chief among these is how they could influence the outcome of a child custody dispute. Whether you’ve been accused of domestic violence or have been the victim of it, you need an experienced attorney advocating for you and your children.

At Coover & Associates, our family law attorneys also have considerable experience in criminal defense work. Because of this, we understand how these two areas of law intersect and what it means for all involved. We strive to provide clients with the information and strategies they need to protect their interests. On this page, we’ll discuss some of the ways that violence allegations and a resulting protection from abuse order can impact a child custody dispute.

A Basic Overview Of Protective Orders

A protection from abuse (PFA) order in Pennsylvania is what is more commonly known as a “restraining order” elsewhere. It applies specifically to allegations of domestic violence. It is a civil order, issued by a judge, that places restrictions on an alleged abuser (defendant). Someone making allegations (the petitioner) can file for a temporary PFA, which lasts about 10 days. Within that time, a hearing must be held to determine if a long-term order can be enacted (lasting up to three years).

Both the accuser and the accused can appear before a judge at the final hearing and can be represented by their respective attorneys. After hearing from both sides, a judge will choose whether to issue a long-term order, and, if issued, will decide the terms of the order.

The Consequences Of A PFA Order In Family Law Disputes

When the petitioner files for a PFA order, they are asked about the kinds of protection they are seeking. Common requests include:

  • Keeping the defendant out of a shared residence
  • Preventing the defendant from contacting the petitioner or their shared children
  • Seeking emergency custody of the children

If granted, the short-term and long-term consequences of these requests could greatly impact the trajectory and outcome of a family law dispute, particularly regarding child custody. They could create precedents that would become the new “normal.” Family law judges might then be reluctant to make any changes that would unduly disrupt the children’s daily lives.

Whether you are a victim of domestic violence or have been accused of committing it, you need to work with an experienced and effective attorney who can help you tell your side of the story and advocate for the best interests of your children. Our attorneys have more than 25 years of collective legal experience in both family law and criminal law, and we work tirelessly to help clients achieve empowering solutions to their legal issues.

Tell Us Your Story During A Free Phone Consultation

Coover & Associates serves clients in central Pennsylvania from our convenient office locations in York, Carlisle, Chambersburg and Camp Hill. To request a free 30-minute phone consultation about your legal matter, you can contact us online or call 717-461-7789.