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What Legal Options are Available for Protection from Domestic Violence?

Ask the Prosecutor to file criminal charges against the abuser in the city where the abuse occurred and also request a Temporary Protection Order (TPO).

File for a Civil Protection Order (CPO) in the county Domestic Relations Court, or the general division of the county Common Pleas Court if there is no Domestic Relations Court.

Criminal Temporary Protection Order

A TPO is issued only in criminal cases and orders the abuser to:

  • stay away from the victim and family members
  • stay away from the residence and workplace
  • not damage or remove property
  • not carry a weapon
  • not phone or otherwise contact the victim

Civil Protection Order

In addition to the TPO orders listed above, a CPO may award temporary custody, grant or suspend visitation with the minor children, and also may order the abuser to:

  • Give the victim exclusive use of an automobile
  • Attend substance abuse, anger management or batterer's counseling
  • Pay support for the victim and the children
  • Be removed from the residence

How to File for a Civil Protection Order

Victims of domestic violence can file for a Civil Protection Order (CPO) with the help of an attorney, or without an attorney (also called "pro se"). It is more helpful to have an attorney. Legal Aid attorneys can assist victims who qualify for assistance. Phone the Legal Aid office in your county.

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