Restraining orders are very powerful tools and can provide you and your family with various forms of protection. A restraining order, a form of equitable relief, is a court order and can be granted to protect someone from being physically abused, threatened, stalked or harassed. Furthermore, a civil restraining order can also grant someone custody of their children, order visitation and child support, provide court orders, and even require the other party to refrain from or to do something. You should seek a restraining order if someone you are related to or are in a close relationship with has abused you or your child.
It is important to differentiate the two types of courts that handle restraining orders and domestic violence. First, civil court handles actions brought by the victim, who can either be an individual or business, and does not aim to punish the other party, but rather to control and prevent the actions of the other party. A violation of civil law is not punishable by imprisonment; however, a violation of a civil court order, such as a restraining order, is considered contempt of court, which in turn is a criminal act and may be punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. There are two types of restraining orders that may be sought in civil court: (1) Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVRO) and (2) Civil Harassment Orders (CHO). The difference between the two turns on the degree of relationship between the victim and the perpetrator. In order obtain a DVRO, there must be a familial or other close relationship between the two parties. However, there is no specific relationship required to obtain a CHO.
Second, criminal court handles only actions brought by the state, rather than the victim, against an individual for violating one or more state criminal laws. Orders issued in criminal court are primarily intended to punish an individual, the perpetrator, for violating state laws. There are two types of orders: (1) Criminal Protective Orders and (2) Emergency Protective Orders.
For additional information about Pennsylvania family law or the divorce process, or to discuss your particular situation and learn about your options, please schedule a confidential consultation with attorney Joanne Kleiner by calling us at 215-886-1266. Or, fill out our intake form and we will contact you. The decisions you make today really will affect your future. Let us help you make those decisions intelligent and informed.