When you married your spouse, you probably never imagined that the day would come when that person would present a threat to you or your children. Unfortunately, sometimes these situations arise and people are left with few options on how to improve or resolve the issue. You may try reasoning with your spouse and perhaps even calling on family, friends, therapists, and clergy for advice and intervention. As good as those resources can be, however, they do not always serve to solve the issue. But there is legal action you can take in such situations. The commonwealth of Virginia provides assistance to people from abusive spouses, ex-spouses, significant others, family members, and housemates through the provision of a protective order. When you obtain a protective order, you can prevent a dangerous individual from taking actions with regard to you, your children, or your property. If that person violates the protective order, you can call the police who will enforce the order through arrest, detention, and other means. Below we discuss the various types of protective orders and how to obtain them.
Emergency Protective Orders
An emergency protective order is an order that can protect you for up to three days by prohibiting contact between an abuser and you and your family, as well as excluding the abuser from the household premises for that time. This type of order can be issued by a state court judge or magistrate at any time, even after court hours, and can be issued on the petition of the person seeking protection or a law enforcement officer, such as a police officer.
Preliminary Protective Orders
Because an emergency protective order is only good for up to three days, the next step would be to obtain a preliminary protective order which is good for up to fifteen days, at which time a full hearing would be held involving you and the abuser. A court will issue a preliminary protective order ex parte – meaning the abuser does not have to be made aware that you are seeking an order until it is already issued nor does that person have the right to attend the hearing at which it is issued – so long as you can present evidence to the court that there is “good cause” for the order. Good cause can be demonstrated by either an immediate or present danger of family abuse or evidence that such abuse has recently occurred. Your family law attorney can present well-reasoned and supported arguments to the court in favor of this order.
Protective Orders (“Permanent” Protective Orders)
Within 15 days of receiving a preliminary protective order, there will have to a full hearing before the court can determine whether to extend that order into a “permanent” protective order which can be effective for up to two years. The abuser will be invited to the hearing and the person seeking the order will need to present evidence to the court that he or she has been, within a reasonable period of time, subjected to an act of violence, force, or threat by the abuser. If the court finds the evidence in favor of the petitioner’s accusations outweighs the evidence against such accusations, the court will issue the order. Again, an experienced family law attorney will be able to provide a compelling argument to the court in your favor.
Work with Experienced, Compassionate Family Law Attorneys
At Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC in Fredericksburg, we will take your matters seriously and help you navigate all aspects of the protective order process in Virginia. To schedule a consultation with one of our Virginia family law attorneys, contact Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC at 540.642.1766.