Restraining Order Attorney in Virginia
A protective order, also called a restraining order, is a type of legal order issued by the state of Virginia that requires one person to stop harming threatening to harm to another. There are both civil and criminal orders of protection; family law protective orders are typically issued in order to combat domestic abuse. If you are the victim of domestic abuse, you have legal rights and protections available to you. Call our experienced Virginia family law attorneys today to learn more about how to get a protective order.
Types of Protective Orders
The purpose of a protective order is to protect the safety and health of any person who is the victim of any act of violence, force, or threat of bodily injury, sexual assault, or death. As explained by the Virginia courts, there are three types of protective orders that are issued in the state:
- Emergency protective orders. An emergency protective order is a temporary protective order that will be issued by a court when immediate protection is necessary. As such, this type of order can even be issued after regular business hours or on the weekend when the court is not regularly in session. This type of order will be issued without a hearing, and only last for three days from the date of issuance or the next day that court is in session.
- Preliminary protective orders. A preliminary protective order is a type of protective order that is issued before a full hearing takes place. Acquiring a preliminary protective order is the first step to gaining a final protective order (explained below). This order only last for 15 days but can be extended for up to six months if the respondent fails to show up for the scheduled court hearing.
- Permanent protective order. Finally, a permanent order of protection, often just called a protective order, can last up to two years. In order to get a protective order, a full court hearing must take place.
An attorney can help you to understand the different types of protective orders in Virginia and which one is most relevant to your situation.
What Does a Protective Order Do?
A guide for victims published by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services explains the numerous provisions that may be included in an order of protection. Most emergency and preliminary protective orders may:
- Prohibit the abusive party from contacting the victim and the victim’s family and household members;
- Prohibit the abusive party from engaging in any acts of violence;
- Give the victim temporary possession of a shared home (and prohibit the abusive party from entering); and
- Grant temporary possession of a shared vehicle to the victim.
In addition to the above, a permanent order of protection can also require the abuser to attend mandatory counselor or treatment and give temporary custody of a shared child to the victim.
Who Can Seek an Order of Protection?
If you are seeking an order of protection through the family court system, you must have evidence that you have been abused by a family or household member. This includes a spouse (current or former), parent, sibling, child, grandparent, or step- or half-sibling/child/parent/grandparent. In-laws are also considered family for the purposes of seeking an order of protection if you live together. Finally, you may also seek an order of protection against anyone with whom you cohabit or has lived with you over the past 12 months or with whom you have a child.
Seeking an Order of Protection in Virginia
While filing petitions for other family law-related matters usually requires paying a fee, there are no filing fees for filing a petition requesting an order of protection. Your petition will need to include details of the abuse and specifics about why you are seeking the order of protection. After your petition has been filed, it will be reviewed by a judge, who will then decide whether or not to grant a preliminary order. If a preliminary order is granted, the abusive party will be served with the order, most likely by the police or sheriff. At the hearing, both you and the abusive party will have an opportunity to present evidence and present your case.
Working with a Lawyer When Seeking an Order of Protection
You are not required to work with a lawyer when seeking an order of protection, but hiring a lawyer can be helpful in many cases. To be sure, your attorney can help you to understand what type of order you need, how to fill out the petition correctly, and where to file your petition. Your lawyer can also help you to gather evidence and prepare for a hearing.
Many people who seek domestic violence orders of protection are also interested in filing for a divorce. Working with an attorney during the divorce process can be very valuable, especially as it comes to navigating tough issues like child custody, spousal maintenance, property division, and child support. Further, having an advocate on your side throughout the entire process can be reassuring and comforting.
Our Experienced Virginia Family Law Attorneys Are Here to Support You
Acts of domestic violence should be taken very seriously, and if you are being harmed by a member of your household or family, you should act to protect yourself immediately. If you are in fear of imminent bodily injury or death, call 911 in order to get an emergency protective order now.
For help in seeking a protective order and navigating other family law matters, our legal team is here to help. For your consultation with our Virginia family law attorneys at the offices of Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C., please call our law offices today at 703-361-1555, send us a confidential message, or visit our Manassas office in person. We are here to help you when you need it most.