Obtaining a protective order can help ensure that you and your family members are safe. Having a protective order on you can limit many rights you currently enjoy. Whether you need assistance in obtaining a protective order, or need assistance defending yourself from false allegations being used to obtain a protective order on you, contact one of the Randall | Page family law attorneys today.
Types of Protective Orders in Virginia
In Virginia, when dealing with family abuse allegations, the courts are authorized by statute to issue three types of protective order. They are called emergency protective orders, preliminary protective orders, and protective orders.
Emergency Protective Orders
The most important thing to know about emergency protective orders is that they can be obtained 24 hours a day, every day of the year. They can be issued by any circuit court, general district court, or juvenile and domestic relations court judge, or by any magistrate. If the courts are closed when you need an emergency protective order, a magistrate is available wherever you reside, to issue those orders. If the police respond to your call, they are also able to obtain an emergency protective order on your behalf. These orders can be obtained solely based on your statements to the magistrate and do not require any additional evidence. Once an order is obtained, the court will make attempts to serve a copy on the other party. The second most important thing to know about emergency protective orders is that they automatically expire at 11:59PM on the third day following its issuance, unless the court is not in session on that third day, then they expire at 11:59PM on the next day that the court which issued the order is in session. If you want the order to expire, then you do not have to do anything else. If you want the order to continue, then you must file a petition, in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for the jurisdiction that issued the emergency protective order, for a preliminary protective order.
Preliminary Protective Orders
Preliminary protective orders are designed to provide the victim protections while waiting for a court date where evidence will be heard on whether to implement a protective order. The hearing must be held within 15 days of the issuance of the preliminary protective order. The court can issue the preliminary protective order without notice to the defendant if the petitioner, under oath, states that the petitioner faces “immediate and present danger” or “evidence sufficient to establish probable cause that family abuse has recently occurred.” The order becomes effective once it is served on the allegedly abusing person. Therefore, it is important that you provide the court with the location of the alleged abuser. At the hearing both parties will be able to present evidence to the court. The court may issue a protective order if the court finds that the petitioner has proven the allegation of family abuse by a preponderance of the evidence. You should understand that the courts are reluctant to issue protective orders without both parties being present since they infringe on an individual’s rights, so again it is important to provide the court with all of the places you think the other party might be located.
In cases involving family abuse, the court may issue a protective order to protect the health and safety of the petitioner and family or household members. The court may in certain circumstances also issue a temporary child support order for the support of any children of the petitioner whom the respondent has a legal obligation to support. This will remain in effect until another hearing on the child support is held. The court can issue a protective for a specific period of time, but no more than two years. Prior to its expiration, the petitioner may file a motion requesting a hearing to extend the order.
Summary of what protective orders can do:
Emergency protective orders, preliminary protective orders, and protective orders can each do the following:
- Prohibit further acts of family abuse;
- Prohibit contact by the defendant with family or household members in order to protect the safety of the family or household members; and
- Exclude the defendant from the residence occupied by the parties.
Preliminary protective orders and protective orders can do the above, plus:
- Stop the defendant from turning off utilities in the premises awarded to petitioner or order they be restored if already terminated;
- Give the petitioner exclusive temporary possession or use of a motor vehicle owned by the petitioner alone or owned jointly by the parties; and
- Require the defendant to provide suitable alternative housing for the petitioner and any other family or household member, including ordering the payment of deposits to connect or restore utility services in the alternative housing.
Protective order can do all of the above and:
- Order the defendant to participate in treatment, counseling, or other programs deemed appropriate by the court;
- Grant temporary custody of a minor child;
- Assess costs and attorney fees against either party; and
- Grant any other terms of conditions necessary for the protection of the petitioner and family or household members of the petitioner;
- Issue a temporary child support order if the respondent has a legal obligation to support any children of the petitioner.