Protection From Abuse

A protection from abuse order is a paper that is signed by a judge and tells an abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences.  It offers civil legal protection from domestic violence to both female and male victims.

PLA helps clients obtain protection from abuse orders.  We do not represent defendants in protection from abuse cases.

How to get help with Protection From Abuse

The following departments at PLA provide legal assistance with Protection From Abuse:

Intake Procedure:

Call the Family Law Intake Line at 215.981.3838 on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between the hours of 09:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.  Callers are not able to leave a message.  The Family Law Intake Line may be closed early if call volume is high.

We recommend calling at least three weeks before your court date before a Master and at least six weeks before your hearing before a Judge.

PLA's Family Law Intake Line does not accept applications for assistance with divorce, child support, or spousal support.

Assistance for immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault is available from PLA's Immigrant Women's Legal Assistance Hotline, which assists callers with legal problems including divorce, custody, child/spousal support, protection from abuse, and immigration.  Speakers of languages other than English and Spanish may leave a message with the Immigrant Women's Legal Assistance Hotline by calling 215.981.3838 at any time.

Applicants may also apply online.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file for a protection from abuse order?

A protection from abuse order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by family or household members, sexual or intimate partners, or someone with whom you have a child in common.

You can file your petition for a protection from abuse order with the Court of Common Pleas in the county where you live (permanently or temporarily), where you work, in any county where the abuser can be served (i.e., where s/he lives or works), or in the county where the abuse took place.

Self-Help Resources

Family Law Resource List

This is a list of organizations that provide assistance with family law cases.

Family Law for Teen Parents

A 54-page guide and an on-line quiz for teen parents about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to paternity, child custody, child support, protection from abuse, and emancipation.

Technology Safety Tips

The Tech Safety Tips booklet contains helpful information about keeping your personal information private when you use e-mail, cell phones, and other forms of technology.  Created by the Women's Law Project.

Information about technology safety is also available at

Getting a Protection From Abuse Order

This video explains the court process for obtaining a Protection From Abuse Order. Developed by Philadelphia Legal Assistance as part of its Make Your Case video series.

Court Forms Available From the First Judicial District

See the First Judicial District's court forms page for PDF court forms for use in custody, support, and protection from abuse cases.

Domestic Violence and Welfare Support Requirements

Individuals and families who receive cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program are required to apply for child or spousal support unless excused "for good cause."  This brochure explains how TANF recipients may be excused from this requirement if filing for support could lead to violence.

Safety Planning Tips

This brochure provides suggestions on staying safe if you are in or have left an abusive relationship.

Information about Protection From Abuse in Philadelphia

These brochures provide basic information about how to obtain a Protection From Abuse order in Philadelphia.

Family law self-help resources from Women's Law Project

The Women's Law Project offers a variety of self-help materials in the area of Family Law.

Family law resources from offers self-help forms and information on a variety of family law topics, including document assembly interviews that allow you to create legal documents on-line.  Some of the document assembly interviews were developed by PLA.


Leslie Allen - Attorney

Leslie Allen is a Supervising Attorney of the Family Law Unit.

Emilia Golanska - Attorney

Emilia Golanska is a Managing Attorney at PLA.

Deeya Haldar - Attorney

Deeya Haldar is currently on leave from Philadelphia Legal Assistance.  She is teaching a civil litigation clinic at Villanova Law School.

Susan Pearlstein - Attorney

Susan Pearlstein is the Senior Attorney, Violence Prevention and Policy Strategist at PLA.

Gabriela Rodriguez - Attorney

Gabriela Rodriguez is a Supervising Attorney of the Family Law Unit.


Diane Rosario - Paralegal

Senior Paralegal

Angela Ruan - Attorney
Arly Smith-Pearson - Attorney

Arly Smith-Pearson is the supervisor of the Drexel Civil Litigation Field Clinic.

Lawrence Szmulowicz - Attorney