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Know the Laws: Virginia

UPDATED November 18, 2016

Enforcing Your Out-of-State Order in Virginia

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If you are planning to move to Virginia or are going to be in Virginia for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in Virginia

back to topCan I get my protection order enforced in Virginia? What are the requirements?

Yes. Your protection order can be enforced in Virginia as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.*
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.**

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
** 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a), (b)

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back to topCan I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in Virginia?

No. Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order.  You cannot have this done by a court in Virginia.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued.  You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living.  To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page on our website for the state where your order was issued by entering your state in the drop-down menu. 

If your order does expire while you are living in Virginia, you may be able to get a new one issued in Virginia but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Virginia. To find out more information on how to get a protective order in Virginia, visit our VA Protective Orders (for Family Abuse) page.

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back to topI was granted temporary custody with my out-of-state protection order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in Virginia?

Yes.  As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,* Virginia can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets these standards, contact a lawyer in your area.  To find a lawyer in your area go to our VA Finding a Lawyer page.

* The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

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Registering Your Out-of-State Order in Virginia

back to topWhat is the National Crime Information Center Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

Before moving to Virginia, the state that issued your protection order may already have entered your order into the NCIC.  If not, your order may be entered into the NCIC after your order is registered in Virginia.

Most law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

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back to topHow do I register my protection order in Virginia?

To register your protection order in Virginia, you will need to fill out the appropriate forms at the family courthouse in your county or online on the Virginia Judicial System website.

You will need to attach a certified copy of your order to the form, and take it to any juvenile and domestic relations district court in Virginia.  See our VA Courthouse Locations page to find a court near you.  The court staff will index your protection order in their system, issue a certificate of filing, and forward a copy to the local law enforcement agency, which will put your protection order into the Virginia Crime Information Network (VCIN), which is a statewide registry that keeps records of all protective orders issued in (or registered in) Virginia.*

Your order may also be entered into the National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC), which is a nationwide database of criminal records and protection orders.

If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Virginia for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our VA State and Local Programs page.

* Virginia Judicial System website

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back to topDo I have to register my protection order in Virginia to get it enforced?

No.  According to federal law,* all states, including Virginia, must enforce an out-of-state protection order.  Virginia state law gives full protection to an out-of-state protection order as long as you can show the officer a copy of the order and can truthfully tell the officer that you believe the order is still in effect.**

It does not have to be entered into the state or national registry in order to be enforced by a Virginia police officer, but the officer does need to believe that it is a valid (real) order.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265
** Va. Code §16.1-279.1(E)

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back to topWill the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.*  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Staying Safe page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our VA State and Local Programs page.

* 18 USC § 2265(d)

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back to topDoes it cost anything to register my protection order?

No.  There is no fee for registering your protection order in Virginia.*

* VA Code § 16.1-279.1(I)

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