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Family Abuse & Protective Orders

Domestic violence is a complex area of the law where the advice and counsel of an experienced Virginia family law and divorce attorney will be important to you and your family. Whatever the situation, there is never an excuse for domestic violence or domestic abuse. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, a protective order should be considered.

Obtaining a Protective Order for Family Abuse – The Basics

A Protective Order is an order entered to direct another person to cease acts of family abuse, limit contact with the victim, or provide other safety measures.

In order to receive a protective order in Virginia, you must have recently suffered an act of family abuse. “Family abuse” is defined as “any act involving (1) violence, (2) force, or (3) threat that results in bodily injury or places on in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury and that is committed by a person against such person’s family or household member.” Va. Code Section 16.1-228.

Threats include promises or claims of physical harm. Violence and force include hitting, kicking, strangling, pushing, and depending on the circumstances, stalking. Verbal insults or excessive text messages from your spouse are generally not acts of family abuse. A family or household member includes your spouse, former spouse, immediate or extended family who live in the same home as you, or anyone with whom you were in a romantic relationship and lived with in the past 12 months.

Finally, to qualify for a protective order, you must show the court that you continue to be reasonably afraid of your abuser and that this order is necessary to prevent future harm to you.

Generally, a protective order can be secured via:

  • Emergency Protective Orders: May be issued where the police were called to help in an abusive situation. The police and can either assist or advise on how to obtain this order from the magistrate directly. These Orders are valid for 72 hours.
  • Preliminary Protective Orders: May be issued when you file a petition with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and appear before a judge to explain the circumstances requiring this order. Preliminary Protective Orders last for up to 15 days.
  • Permanent Protective Orders: Hearings for permanent protective orders occur within the 15-day period of the preliminary protective order. These hearings are generally 30 minutes long. A a permanent protective order can be granted for up to two (2) years.

In addition to requiring your abuser to stay away from you, courts have the authority to exclude your abuser from the home, grant you access to a family vehicle, provide support, and even make provisions for temporary custody of your children.

You may also find more information at:

http://fairfaxdvcommunity.org/files/documents/DV-Protective-Order-Process.pdf

Contact an attorney at Maddox & Gerock, P.C. to discuss the specifics of your case and determine whether a protective order is appropriate to ensure your safety.