Get your questions about Divorce in Virginia answered HERE!
There are many questions that run through your mind when you think about the possibility of ending a marriage. No matter how short or long the marriage was, you probably never thought you would end up here. You’re dealing with some harsh realities and still may be sorting through some serious emotions. To top it all off, you just don’t know what to do next.
That’s why I’m glad you are here. Even if you are not ready to hire an attorney, I hope you will find lots of good information here that will answer at least some of your questions. Check out the link below to get my FREE Book on Divorce in Virginia. Yes…it’s FREE.
I want to provide you with information that can empower you right now, where you are, when you need it the most. Going through a divorce can make you feel like you have no control over your life, your possessions, your family or your future. I want to help you sort through that as best I can. The truth is, you cannot control the actions of OTHERS (namely your spouse), but you CAN take control of your own decisions. YOU have the power to decide that you WILL make it through this stage, no matter how hard it gets.
On the other hand, maybe you are emotionally ready for this change. You’ve already sorted through your emotions, already been separated for a while and are just ready to move on with the legal process of divorce.
No matter where you are today, we want to help you think positively about your future. We truly hope that you are on the road to emotional health and recovery, despite the turmoil that may be surrounding you. The one sure thing that can help you make GOOD choices for your present and your future is information. That’s why it’s my mission to make it EASY for you to find the answers you may need.
If you do have questions, our firm is available to speak with you directly. Contact our office to talk with our team of professionals. Our conversation will be completely confidential, and you just might walk away with answers to the questions that are keeping you up at night. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by accessing our FREE information, or by choosing to speak with an attorney right now, with NO OBLIGATION.
Call us at 804-572-4356 for a confidential conversation about your specific situation. The consultation is an investment of $50, which is the fraction of the cost that most law firms charge.
NOT READY TO TALK? Download my FREE book on VIRGINIA DIVORCE here and work through it at your own pace. Whenever you are ready – we’ll be right here.
Have kids to consider? Check out our information on CHILD CUSTODY in Virginia here.
Mini E-book: Guide to Protective Orders
Have you been abused?
Do you feel afraid to live in your own home?
Has your spouse or significant other threatened you?
Are you concerned for the safety of your children?
Protective Orders for Family Abuse in Virginia
You may be surprised to find yourself reading this resource. You may have never thought you’d be in a place where you felt you were unsafe. You’ve probably been careful most of your life about your surroundings, about the people you come into contact with. Or maybe you’ve made some unwise choices in the past about the company you’ve kept, and since moved on – but maybe the past has caught up with you. Maybe the person you have been living with or married has suddenly become this”other person” that you no longer recognize, and you never thought they would be capable of making you feel unsafe and insecure.
Whatever your specific circumstance, if you feel that you have been or may be a victim of abuse, it’s a good idea to learn what your options may be for protecting yourself through the legal system.
First Things First
As a practical matter, if you are in immediate, life-threatening danger, get to a safe place, and call 911. This resource guide cannot help you unless you are around to use it. This guide is not legal advice – whether or not a protective order is useful to you depends on your specific situation.
What is a Protective Order
A protective order is basically a piece of paper. Clearly, a piece of paper won’t help you in and of itself. The best you can do with a piece of paper is ball it up and throw it at the person threatening you. This probably won’t end well, so don’t try that. If you are dealing with an erratic, dangerous, volatile situation, a protective order cannot actually defend you or save your life, so you will need to make other practical choices about your safety, even if you do request protection of the court.
A protective order is basically a court order, that tells the “alleged abuser” (the person threatening you) what type of contact he or she may have with the “allegedly abused person” (you and anyone else covered in the order).
Types of Protective Orders for Family Abuse
In Virginia, there are three main types of protective orders.
Emergency Protective Order (EPO) – This order only lasts up to 72 hours from when it is issued, or “served” on the alleged abuser. This protective order is meant to put some space, distance, and time between the alleged abuser and the person seeking protection. The “allegedly abused person” can request an EPO, or law enforcement can request it on behalf of a potential victim of family abuse.
NOTE; The word “alleged” is important here, because the issuance of a protective order does NOT NECESSARILY indicate criminal activity or wrongdoing by the alleged abuser.
Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) – This order stays in effect for a longer period of time, and can be expanded into a full, or permanent protective order only after a full court hearing on the facts and circumstances of the alleged abuse.
Permanent Protective Order – This order can last up to two years, but is only entered after a full court hearing on the PPO.
What Does a Protective Order Do?
A protective order tells an alleged abuser what type of contact he or she can have with you, the protected person. It can order the individual to have only “peaceful contact” with the protected person. It tells the alleged abuser not to “commit acts of family abuse or criminal offenses that result in injury to person or property.”
This is different from a “no contact” order, where the alleged abuser must not have any contact with the protected person. A protective order can also grant “possession” of a family residence to the protected person, and exclude the alleged abuser from the property for the duration of the order. It’s important to note that granting the protected party “possession” of the premises does NOT change any ownership rights to the property.
What to Do If you Need a Protective Order
Of course, you can call an attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the process, and can assist you in organizing the facts of your situation into the required affidavit to be used in requesting the protective order. Attorneys are usually skilled communicators, and this skill can be useful in communicating your dangerous situation to the court in a way that compels them to enter the order of protection.
Do I Need An Attorney?
No. You do not need to hire an attorney to seek a protective order. If you choose not to hire an attorney, you may be able to get a temporary protective order issued on your own. Courts in Virginia have resources that can help an individual seek court protection without using an attorney. There is a form that you will need to complete and sign, which includes a sworn affidavit. You will be asked to either testify verbally about the “alleged” abuse that you have suffered, and/or submit a written affidavit that details the incidents or events leading you to seek protection.
Where Do I Go?
For protective orders involving family members, people that live in your household, or juveniles you should visit the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for your city or county. For protective orders involving anyone else (an adult, non-family member, who does not live with you) you should contact the General District Court for your locality. They can let you know what you need to do in order to get started on your own, and will provide the forms for you to complete.
Will I Have to Testify?
You will need to speak to a judge or magistrate about your specific situation. This will be considered sworn testimony, that carries penalties of perjury. If you want your EPO extended into a full PO, you will need to show evidence at a hearing that warrants the extension.
What if a Family Member has Gotten A Protective Order Against Me?
If you have been served a protective order alleging acts of abuse that you may (or may not) have committed, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney. An attorney will help you determine whether you have been served with an EPO, a PPO, or a full PO. For any type of order, it is ESSENTIAL that you do not violate the terms of the order.
If the protected party is seeking a full PO (that can last up to two years) you may need the expertise of an attorney to help defend you in court. If a permanent order is entered, it can affect you negatively in the future in matters of divorce, custody, and more. If you have been served with a no contact EPO or PPO and the paperwork shows a hearing date, contact an attorney right away to learn what you can do to protect yourself against a permanent protective order.
What Do I Do if a Family Member Threatens to Get a Protective Order Against Me?
Keep in mind that you may not be able to determine when or where you are served. If you are served at your residence by the police, it could happen late at night, and you may have only a few minutes to grab a few items and leave the premises (if the order requires you to have no contact and leave the household). Once you leave, you are not permitted to return – if you do, you could very well be in violation of the order. Do NOT violate the terms of the order. So, it could be a good idea to get a few things in order and find a friend’s couch to crash on until the order expires. In the meantime, you might want to speak with an attorney if you have any additional questions.
How Much Does it Cost?
In Virginia, there is no cost associated with requesting a protective order. If you choose to hire an attorney, you will be responsible for paying the legal fee, which you should discuss up front. Call 804-572-4356 for a personalized consultation on your specific situation.