One of the toughest parts of a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order is that it can prevent parents from seeing their children. Even if the children were not involved in any abuse, a PFA between parents can limit contact between the children and one parent and make it more difficult for the parent to see their kids.
A PFA, sometimes called a restraining order, can place a number of restrictions on the defendant, including. but not limited to:
- Cannot contact the other party,
- Cannot go within a certain distance of some locations.
- Cannot contact family members of the other party,
- Can be evicted from the family home,
- Cannot go to certain places, including the other party's home or workplace, and
- Cannot contact the children.
Having an experienced PFA defense lawyer on your side can help to get you to be able to see your kids as soon as possible and with fewer restrictions on visits and custody.
Emergency PFA Hearings and Restricted Access to Children
An emergency PFA order can be issued without notice to the defendant and without the defendant having a chance to give their side of the story. The alleged victim can explain to a judge why they need a PFA and the judge can issue one on the spot. However, an emergency PFA is only for a limited time.
An Ex Parte Temporary PFA lasts longer than an emergency PFA and can still be held (and most often is) without the defendant having an opportunity to be heard. Generally, an ex parte PFA will last until there is a chance to have the "final" PFA hearing, usually about 10 days. ("Final" PFA hearing is a term used loosely as PFA cases can at times last for weeks or months before there is a resolution.) The ex parte temporary PFA may limit access to a parent's children (and often does), regardless of whether or not the children are with the other parent.
Challenging Permanent Protective Orders to See Your Kids
Unfortunately, a defendant will in almost all instances have to wait until a "Final" PFA Hearing in which the PFA is resolved in the defendant's favor to be able to see their children. (A PFA can be resolved in a defendant's favor by being dismissed after a hearing, by being dismissed otherwise or withdrawn, or if an alternative outcome is negotiated between the parties and their attorneys and approved by the Judge.)
The reason that a defendant will have to wait to see their children is because pending the final PFA hearing (or more accurately, pending a favorable resolution to the PFA from the perspective of the defendant), a temporary PFA order will remain in effect in almost all instances which would disallow the defendant from having contact with their children.
(A defendant would also be disallowed in almost all instances from having contact with the plaintiff either directly or through a third party. The exception to this is if a plaintiff seeks a temporary PFA and is only granted a hearing date. This occurrence is by far the exception and not the rule.)
What happens when a final PFA hearing is scheduled?
When a "final" PFA hearing is scheduled, you should be given notice of the hearing and an opportunity to present your case. Even if the court issues a final PFA order in place between you and the child's other parent or your ex, you may still be able to get a PFA that allows for access to your children.
Access to your children may depend on the alleged crimes or violence committed against your ex. If there was ever any harm done to the children or violence occurred in front of the children, and if the children are named in the PFA complaint, you are unlikely to get unrestricted access to see your children as a potential final PFA order will also include the children. (You may be restricted from having any contact with your children altogether while the final PFA order remains in effect which can be for up to 3 years and can be extended for longer if cause exists. (If access to your children is allowed, seeing your children may require supervised visitation with another family member present or social worker.
If there was no violence or threats of violence involving your children or they were not witness to any problems, you may be able to get unrestricted visitation with your children. The PFA may still restrict access to the other parent's home and may require safe exchanges, where the children are dropped off and picked up in a safe location, such as at a police station or family member's house.
Talk to your Pennsylvania PFA defense lawyer about your options to make sure you can still see your kids even after your ex got a PFA against you.
Pennsylvania PFA Defense Lawyer
Pennsylvania attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped parents who are subject to a PFA continue to spend time with their children. Protecting your parenting rights is critical and the Lento Law firm can help. Contact Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686.
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