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How do protective orders work in Virginia?

No divorce is ever easy to go through. When domestic violence is involved, your problems are usually multiplied. You not only have to worry about the legal aspect of starting the divorce process, but your own safety can be at stake. If your spouse is abusive, you might be considering a protective order. It can help to know how protective orders are issued in Virginia and what they are for.

The purpose of protective orders is to legally restrict an abusive partner from coming near the victims of domestic violence while the order is in effect. A protective order is issued by the family law court. According to the website of Virginia’s Judicial System, you may apply for the following types of protective orders:

  • Emergency protective order – meant to be used if you are in immediate danger, and is effective for just a few days
  • Preliminary protective order – lasts up to 15 days or until the hearing with a family court judge
  • Final protective order – after the hearing, may last up to two years if the judge determines you will benefit from your abuser staying away from you

It may help your case to gather evidence of abuse before you seek a protective order. This may include photographs of injuries, screenshots of texts that show your spouse’s abusive behavior, medical information and police reports. You will also be able to tell your side to the judge during the hearing. Domestic violence is a complex topic and requires careful action; therefore, this information should not be substituted for qualified legal advice.

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