In Virginia, if you are scared that your spouse may harm you, you can seek a family abuse protective order. There are three kinds of family abuse protective orders: emergency, preliminary, and permanent.
Emergency Protective Orders
An emergency protective order may be granted by a circuit court, general district court, juvenile and domestic relations district court, or magistrate. If the courts are closed on a day that you seek a protective order, you can still seek a protective order from a magistrate’s office. Generally, the court may issue a protective order if the court finds that “(i) a warrant for a violation of 18.2-57.2has been issued and there is probable danger of further acts of family abuseagainst a family or household member by the respondent or (ii) reasonable grounds exist to believe that the respondent has committed family abuse and there is probable danger of a further such offense against a family orhousehold member by the respondent.”
Family abuse means “any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury” that is committed by your husband. Therefore, you do not have to wait until you are actually injured to seek a protective order. If you can show that your husband’s actions involving violence, force, or threat caused you to reasonably believe you would be physically injured, sexually assaulted, or killed, you can seek a protective order.
Generally, an emergency protective order lasts until 11:59 p.m. on the third day following its issuance.
Preliminary Protective Order
A preliminary protective order may be requested from a juvenile and domestic relations district court. A preliminary protective order may be issued upon a showing that you are, or have been, within a reasonable period of time, subjected to family abuse, as defined above. Generally, a preliminary protective order lasts for up to 15 days. A hearing will be set within 15 days of issuance of the preliminary protective order to determine whether a permanent protective order is necessary. To request a preliminary protective order against your spouse, you should go to the juvenile and domestic relations district court and fill out the appropriate forms.
Permanent Protective Order
The determination of whether a permanent protective order shall be issued is made at the hearing set by the court within 15 days of issuance of the preliminary protective order. The permanent protective order can last for up to 2 years. At the end of the initial term of the protective order, you can petition for a renewal of the order.
By Kari Jackson, Associate at Hall & Hall, PLC