No one can quite get under your skin or push your buttons like a family member can. Whether you are an only child or one of many siblings and cousins running around at the annual family reunion, there's no denying that our families know us better than anyone else. That intimate knowledge is why our siblings, parents, cousins, and other blood relatives are so uniquely equipped to annoy, aggravate, and provoke us.
But what about when one member of the family crosses the line and threatens another—or if they drum up a specious charge to get you in trouble with the law? Let's take a look at what happens if your parent or sibling takes out a PFA against you.
The Basics of Protect From Abuse Orders
PFA stands for “Protection From Abuse.” You may also hear the term “restraining order,” which is similar, but in Pennsylvania, “PFA” is the correct legal term. A PFA order is a document issued by a judge that prohibits someone from contacting or even coming near the person (or persons) who filed it. Usually, the PFA will specifically forbid the alleged abuser:
- To stop harassing or stalking the other party
- To cease all contact with the other party, including contact via mail, telephone, text messages, online chat clients, and social media apps
- Not to attempt contact through a mutual friend or third party
- To stay within a certain distance away from the initiating person's home, school, and/or place of employment
This is not an exhaustive list; there are many other stipulations included in most PFAs.
Could a PFA Lead to Eviction?
Unfortunately, yes. That is, if you, as the individual named in the PFA, share a residence with the person who took out the PFA against you. This is true even if you are the sole owner or the only person listed on the lease of the home. Depending on the claims made by the other party, your living arrangements, and the judge who issues the order, you might be forced to leave the home immediately. Or you could be asked to find housing for the other party.
Additionally, you may be compelled by the court to financially support the family member who has the PFA, including payment of rent or mortgage, health insurance, medical bills, and the like.
Violating a PFA
If someone in your family takes out a PFA against you and you violate the terms set forth in that PFA, you could be facing serious consequences. Some of those consequences may be criminal in nature; others are incredibly difficult to deal with emotionally.
Even if the family member in question contacts you and asks to meet up, you could still be found in violation. It sounds unbelievable, but it's true. Any and all necessary communication will have to go through the authorities.
Whether the PFA order is justified or not, this is not the time to argue. There will be a hearing within the next few weeks. With luck, you can get everything straightened out then. For now, just abide by the PFA order so that you don't run the risk of being arrested—and of being subject to all the possible consequences that follow an arrest.
When it comes to PFAs, the law is no different for relatives than it is for spouses or romantic partners. If you're targeted, you may be asked to leave your home, and to leave the other party alone, pending a hearing on the matter.
In the meantime, contact The Lento Law Firm by calling 888-535-3686 or using this form.