The Protection from Abuse process consists of two steps, a temporary hearing, and a final hearing. At the temporary hearing, the plaintiff is allowed to present testimony without the defendant's presence in the room. The temporary hearing is called an "ex parte" hearing, because only one side is represented. At the final hearing, the defendant may present their side of the story, generally represented by their own Pittsburgh PFA attorney.
It is always best to consult with a knowledgeable PA domestic violence attorney and have an advocate by your side during the hearing. However, the necessity of retaining private counsel goes beyond simply preparing for the PFA hearing. While pro bono legal assistance is available when preparing a petition and victims can be appointed volunteer attorneys for the final hearing, not all legal representation is the same.
If you are married or have children, PFA proceedings can affect related divorce, child custody, and support matters. Pro bono lawyers, while available to represent you at the PFA hearing itself, have little experience practicing family law in Pennsylvania will likely not be familiar with the additional aspects of your case. Many pro bono PFA lawyers have little experience in family law in Pennsylvania, and are unaware of the impact filing the PFA could have. Pro Bono domestic violence lawyers provide an important and necessary service to victims without means to retain private counsel, but they have many cases and very little time. A pro bono family lawyer will likely meet with you for only a few minutes before the PFA hearing and may only have time to get details necessary to evaluate your case as it relates to the immediate hearing.
A PA Protection From Abuse Order can have serious consequences in divorce settlement negotiations and child custody matters. An experienced Pittsburgh family lawyer can evaluate all aspects of your case, not just the domestic violence matter. It is therefore advisable to consult with a PA PFA attorney, and retain a family law attorney who can evaluate your overall case and resolve your Pittsburgh domestic violence matter in a way beneficial to you.
To learn how our Pittsburgh family law firm can help you during this difficult time, call us today at 412-339-2491, toll free at 855-VARI-LAW (855-723-2645) or send us an e-mail. One of our experienced Allegheny County divorce lawyers will be glad to offer you advice on what is in your best interests and that of any children in your family. Our Pittsburgh office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and evenings by appointment.Our Pittsburgh Divorce Attorneys routinely accept cases in Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County. Our law firm accepts Pennsylvania family law cases from other Western Pennsylvania counties including Clarion County, Fayette County, Greene County, Indiana County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Venango County on a case-by-case basis.