A Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) is a Court Order which protects victims of domestic violence from abuse, specifically physical injury or threats of physical injury. The PFA Office provides clerical assistance with preparing and filing court papers for people seeking PFA.
Who May File
A person** may file a PFA against an intimate partner or family member. Here are some examples:
** A person under the age of 18 must have an adult file on his or her behalf.
The PFA act does not apply to disputes between strangers, neighbors, roommates, co-workers, or classmates.
How To File
Go to the Protection From Abuse Office at the Lehigh County Courthouse Monday through Friday between 8 am and 12:15 pm Please note that this is a lengthy process and may take several hours to complete. Photo identification is required.
The Protection from Abuse office staff will assist you in filling out a petition and order for protection from abuse. They cannot give legal advice.
In order to attend the 10:30am hearing, you need to be at the PFA office no later than 9:15 am. In order to attend the 1:30pm hearing, you need to be at the PFA office no later than 12:15 pm. Persons arriving after 12:15 pm will be referred to their Magisterial District Judge.
What To Expect When Filing:
You will fill out an information form, then meet with a staff member for an interview. When the paperwork is completed, you will be asked to read and sign the Petition.
You will be escorted to a courtroom and your petition will be presented to a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas who will hold an ex parte (only one party) hearing. The Judge will ask your name, address, and relationship to the defendant. The judge may want to hear a brief description of the abuse.
If your Petition is granted, you will be escorted to the office of the Clerk of Judicial Records, where you will be asked to wait while the PFA staff member processes the Orders.
After the Orders are filed with the Clerk, you will be escorted to the Sheriff's Office, where you will provide additional information. A Sheriff's Deputy will deliver the PFA to the Defendant. The Sheriff's staff will notify the police departments in the jurisdictions (areas) in which you live and work that an order has been issued by the Court.
Before leaving the Courthouse, you will receive two copies of your protection order. You should keep a copy with you at all times.
If you are granted a Temporary Order, the final hearing will be scheduled within (10) business days. Both parties appear at the final hearing and present evidence and witnesses to the Judge for consideration. You may wish to have an attorney represent you at the court hearing.
Emergency Protection from Abuse Order
An Emergency Protection From Abuse Order can be requested after 12:15 pm until the close of business daily at the office of your Magisterial District Judge. After business hours and on the weekends, your police department will connect you with the "on duty" Magisterial District Judge. If you are granted an emergency PFA, your order will expire the next business day. If you want continuing protection, you must go to the Courthouse.
Violations of either a Temporary Order or a Final Order are considered contempt of court and are scheduled before a Judge within 10 days. All violations of the Temporary Orders or Final Orders should be promptly reported to the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction to enforce the Order.
PFA Office, Lehigh County Court:
610-782-3390 / Contact Information
Turning Point (Domestic Violence assistance)
Hot Line 610-437-3369
Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, 455 West Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18101-1614 • (610) 782-3000