Philadelphia Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic violence is a serious problem in Philadelphia, and many spouses ultimately file for divorce or seek a separate as a result of domestic violence. When a person faces domestic violence, she or he may be able to seek different forms of relief from the court. It is important to understand how Pennsylvania handles domestic violence cases, and how a history of domestic violence ultimately can affect other family law matters, such as child custody. If you have questions or concerns, a dedicated Philadelphia domestic violence attorney can speak with you today.
Protection from Abuse Orders in Philadelphia County
Domestic violence can be charged as a criminal offense in Philadelphia County, and it can also have civil consequences in family law cases. In situations where a person has been the victim of abuse or is in fear of injury as a result of domestic violence, that party may be able to get help by filing a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order.
According to the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Services, a PFA Order is “a court order issued by a judge that can provide you protective ‘relief’ from someone who is abusing you, for up to three years.” A person who is 18 years or older, or a minor who is accompanied by a parent or an adult household member or a guardian ad litem, can ask the court for a PFA Order. In some cases, parties who seek a PFA Order also may be eligible for counseling, safety planning, and other forms of assistance with a domestic violence situation. To be eligible for a PFA Order, the parties must have an intimate or a household relationship.
It is important to know that a PFA Order is distinct from a Sexual Violence Protection Order (SVPO), which can be available for victims of domestic violence but does not need to be sought in this context, and from a Protection From Intimidation Order, which is not used in domestic situations.
How Domestic Violence Can Affect a Philadelphia Child Custody Case
Under Pennsylvania law, when courts award child custody to one or both parents, they do so in a manner that focuses on the best interest of the child. A court determines whether parents should be awarded sole or shared legal and physical custody based on a variety of factors. When the court looks at different factors that help it to decide what is in a child’s best interest, it will give the most weight to factors that could impact the child’s safety, including a history of domestic violence.
When one parent has been convicted of domestic violence, or other forms of abuse or violence against a family member or another party, the court will weigh this history heavily. While that parent may still have certain rights when it comes to his or her child, a domestic violence conviction certainly may prevent that parent from having shared custody.
Contact an Experienced Domestic Violence Attorney in Philadelphia, PA
Do you have questions about domestic violence in Pennsylvania? From concerns about protective orders to issues concerning domestic violence and child custody, one of the experienced Philadelphia domestic violence attorneys at our firm can speak with you today about your case. Contact van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin for more information.