PFA (Protection from Abuse) and PSVI (Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation) Orders

A Protection from Abuse (PFA) is an order signed by a judge instructing the abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences It offers civil legal protection form domestic violence to both female and male victims. In order to petition the Court for a PFA, you must be, or have been, in a relationship with or a family member of the person against whom you want to file. Under the Protection From Abuse Act, abuse is defined as physical abuse, a threat which places you in immediate fear of physical injury, or a pattern of conduct which places you in immediate fear of physical injury. The Protection Order can do the following:
  • Prohibit abusive conduct
  • Remove the abuser from your residence
  • Other provisions which the Judge deems appropriate
The PSVI Act allows an adult individual or emancipated minor, who has been subject to sexual violence, to petition the court for protective order. A parent, adult household member or guardian may petition on behalf of a minor who has been subjected to sexual violence and/or intimidation. Unlike the PFA Act, the PSVI Act gives protection to those who have been victimized by a non-family member or even a complete stranger. The intimidation protection is for minors only.

Emergency and Temporary PFA or PSVI Orders
An Emergency Order can be issued by a District Judge after 3:00 p.m. on a business day or when the Court of Common Pleas is closed. An Emergency order is in effect until the end of the next business day of the Court of Common Pleas. A link to the Emergency PFA petition is available to download under the Family Court Forms section of this webpage.
  1. You must report to the Court of Common Pleas to have a temporary order issued.
  2. A Temporary Order stays in effect until the hearing for the permanent PFA/PSVI is held. You can report directly to the Court of Common Pleas during business hours to file for a temporary order.
To file for an order you must:
  • Complete a petition for a Temporary PFA/PSVI.The petitions are available to download  under the Family Court Forms section of this webpage. Individuals wanting to obtain an PFA are strongly encouraged to print the PFA petition and complete it prior to reporting to the PFA Office at the Courthouse.  The PFA office cannot guarantee that a common pleas judge will be available to hear a case after 3:00 p.m.
  • Present the petition to the PFA judge,
  • The PFA/PSVI petition and Temporary Order must be filed in the Prothonotary's Office,
  • Copies of the PFA/PSVI order must be received by your local Police department and by the County Sheriff department (located in the basement of the Courthouse) for service. A copy of the PSVI order will automatically be sent to the Department of Human Services and the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau when the victim is a minor.
You will be scheduled for a permanent PFA/PSVI hearing within two weeks following the issuance of the temporary order.

In order to file for a temporary PFA/PSVI, call the PFA Office of the Court Administrator's Office. See office hours, location and contact info to the right. The Process for completing the paperwork to file a PFA/PSVI petition requires that the petitioner meet with the Judge. The process may take several hours to complete.

A representative can answer questions, address criteria that must be met to get a PFA/PSVI, and assist in the completion of the necessary paperwork to file for a PFA/PSVI. In any emergency, call 911. The police will assist and provide information on how to get an emergency PFA/PSVI and will file a report. For assistance in petitioning for a PFA and counseling assistance, see links for the Blackburn Center and Hope Center to the right.

Due to the current emergency declaration, individuals may file for a Temporary Protection from Abuse at the Westmoreland County Courthouse, Court of Common Pleas, lobby daily between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.  Protection from Abuse filings after 12:00 p.m.  must be filed as an Emergency PFA with the Magisterial Judge by videoconference call.  Anyone who needs to file an emergency PFA after 12 noon should do so at his/her local police station.  Petitioners will not need to be physically in the MDJ office, since the MDJ presides by video.