Domestic Violence
Coordinating Council (DVCC)

Understanding Protection Orders

Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders

Victim/Survivors who are currently or were previously in a substantive dating relationship, married, or in a familial relationship and have experienced intimate partner violence, including those who experienced sexual assault by a current or former partner, may petition for a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA) in Family Court.  A PFA instructs someone to stop abusing another person and often includes an order to stay away from the victim.  Some states may refer to it as a restraining order.  [Neither a casual acquaintanceship nor ordinary fraternization between two individuals in business or social contexts shall be deemed to constitute a “substantive dating relationship” as defined in the statute.]

To get a better understanding of the process to petition for a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order, the Family Court‘s website explains the process of seeking a PFA, explains the terms referenced, and provides the forms and resources that you will need.  It hosts a video titled “The PFA Hearing:  What You Can Expect, A step-by-step guide through the PFA process.”  It is recommended that you work with a victim advocate either at the Domestic Violence Advocacy Program housed within Family Court, or a police-based Victim Services Specialist, or a victim advocate at a community advocacy organization.

View the Comprehensive Protection from Abuse Case Instruction Packet to learn more about filing for a PFA, the PFA process, and acts that qualify as abuse under Delaware Law.

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Sexual Violence Protective Orders (SVPO)

Victim/Survivors of sexual assault who do not qualify to petition for a PFA because there was no current or past relationship with the person who harmed them can seek a Sexual Violence Protective Order (SVPO) in Superior Court.


Lethal Violence Protective Orders (LVPO)

LVPOs prohibit a person from having access to firearms to prevent potential acts of lethal violence, whether the concern is that the person is a danger to themself or to others.  Family members, persons living with a child in common, persons in a substantive dating relationship, or law enforcement can petition in Superior Court for a non-emergency Lethal Violence Protective Order (LVPO).  Only Law Enforcement can seek an emergency LVPO, so contact your local law enforcement agency if there is an urgent concern.


Understanding Protective Orders Brochure

The brochure linked below is not a comprehensive guide and does not offer legal advice.  It provides an overview of the various types of protective orders available, and where to go for more information and for assistance.  To request paper copies of this brochure, please email

Photo of the front and back cover of the Understanding Protective Orders brochure.
Understanding Protective Orders Brochure


Help and Support

For additional services, please see the service provider listing.

Family Court (PFAs):
New Castle County 302-255-0300
Kent County 302-672-1000
Sussex County 302-855-7400

Superior Court (SVPOs):
New Castle County 302-255-0800
Kent County 302-735-1900
Sussex County 302-855-7055

24-hour Domestic Violence Hotlines:
New Castle County 302-762-6110
Kent & Sussex Counties 302-422-8058
New Castle County Crisis Hotline 302-761-9100
Kent & Sussex Crisis Hotline 800-262-9800
Child Abuse Hotline 800-292-9582

Domestic Violence Advocacy Program in each County – assistance w/PFA process:
New Castle County 302-255-0420
Kent County 302-672-1075
Sussex County 302-856-5843

Attorney General:
New Castle County 302-255-0112
Kent County 302-739-4211
Sussex County 302-856-5353

Legal Services:
New Castle County 302-478-8680
Kent County 302-674-8500

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