A Guide to Protective Orders in Virginia
This guide gives a basic overview as to the steps necessary to obtain a protective order in Virginia, as well as the remedies available should one be issued.
Emergency Protective OrderEmergency protective orders in Virginia may be obtained from a magistrate. The magistrate is a public official located within each jurisdiction in Virginia. Their role in these types of cases is to make quasi judicial determinations when a judge is not available. In the cases of protective orders, if the petitioner swears under oath that an act of abuse has occurred, or that there is a reasonable likelihood of abuse, then a Virginia magistrate will issue an emergency protective order that will last 72 hours. Emergency protective orders are also automatically issued when a person is arrested for an alleged offense of assault and battery on a family or household member.
Preliminary Protective OrdersOnce the emergency protective order is issued a person may have it extended by the issuance of a preliminary protective order. Preliminary protective orders last for up to 15 days, and the Respondent is entitled to a full trial on the merits of the case within that time period. Unlike emergency protective orders, preliminary protective orders are issued by a sitting judge. The judge must determine from a sworn affidavit that an act of abuse has occurred, or that there is a reasonable likelihood of abuse. The affidavit is presented by the petitioner in an exparte hearting. If the judge finds that the legal standard is met, then the preliminary protective order is issued and a full trial on the merits is set.
Permanent Protective OrdersPermanent protective orders are only issued in Virginia upon a full trial on the merits, and they last for up to two years (despite their name). In order to obtain a permanent protective order, a petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that either there has been an act of abuse, or that there is a reasonable likelihood of abuse. If so, a Virginia judge will issue a protective order for two years, and it can contain the following provisions: no contact, no acts of abuse, exclusive use of a residence, an order to not disconnect necessary utilities, exclusive use of a vehicle, child support, and even exclusive use of a family pet.