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Know the Laws: U.S. Virgin Islands

UPDATED November 22, 2016

Moving to Another State with a Restraining Order

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If you are moving out of the Virgin Islands or are going to be out of the Virgin Islands for any reason, your restraining order can still be enforceable.

General Rules

back to topCan I get my domestic violence restraining order from the U.S. Virgin Islands enforced in another state?

Yes.  If you have a valid U.S. Virgin Islands domestic violence restraining order that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state.  The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which is a federal law, states that all valid domestic violence restraining orders granted in the United States receive "full faith and credit" in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories.  See How do I know if my domestic violence restraining order is good under federal law? to find out if your domestic violence restraining order qualifies.

Each state must enforce out-of-state domestic violence restraining orders in the same way it enforces its own orders.  Meaning, if the abuser violates your out-of-state domestic violence restraining order, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated.  This is what is meant by "full faith and credit."

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back to topHow do I know if my domestic violence restraining order is good under federal law?

A domestic violence restraining order is good anywhere in the United States 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;) and
  • 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 get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your domestic violence restraining order enforced in another state.

However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state where you move.  A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your domestic violence restraining order, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, click on the VI State and Local Programs page or the VI Finding a Lawyer page.

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back to topI have a temporary restraining order. Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes.  A temporary restraining order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my domestic violence restraining order is good under federal law?*

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires.  If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court).  However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.  To read more about the requirements for getting a protective order in your new state, select your state from the drop-down menu on the Restraining Orders page.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

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Getting your Restraining Order Enforced in Another State

back to topHow do I get my domestic violence restraining order enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your domestic violence restraining order enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid domestic violence restraining order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.*  Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state.  You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our State and Local Programs page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

Note: It is important to keep a copy of your domestic violence restraining order with you at all times.  It may also be a good idea to know the rules of states you will be living in or visiting to ensure that your out-of-state order can be enforced in a timely manner.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

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back to topDo I need anything special to get my restraining order enforced in another state?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your domestic violence restraining order.  A certified copy says that it is a "true and correct" copy.

The copy you originally received may be a certified copy.  If your copy is not a certified copy or if you are not sure, you can call or go to the court that gave you the order and ask the clerk's office for a certified copy.  There may be a fee to get a certified copy of a U.S. Virgin Islands domestic violence restraining order.

Note: It may be a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times.  You may also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move to leave at your work place, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.  You may also want to give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser and to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

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back to topDo I need to tell the court in the U.S. Virgin Islands if I move?

The court that gave you your protective order may need to have an up-to-date address for you so that court staff can communicate with you if anything happens to your protective order - for example, if the abuser asks the judge to dismiss the order or if your order is changed in any way.  If you will not be receiving mail at your old address, you may want to provide the court staff with a new address where you can receive mail.

If you provide your new address to the court staff, you may be able to request that they keep it confidential.  If you feel unsafe giving your new address, you may be able to use the address of a friend you trust or a P.O. Box instead.

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Enforcing custody provisions in another state

back to topI was granted temporary custody with my restraining order. Can I take my kids out of the state?

Maybe.  It may depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your domestic violence restraining order.  You may have to first seek the permission of the judge before leaving.  If the abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

To read more about custody laws in the U.S. Virgin Islands, go to our VI Custody page.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a domestic violence advocate or lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children.  You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance in the U.S. Virgin Islands area on our VI Where to Find Help page.

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back to topI was granted temporary custody with my restraining order. Will another state enforce this custody order?

Yes.  Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a domestic violence restraining order can be enforced across state and territory lines.  Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.*

* 18 USC § 2266

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WomensLaw.org would like to thank the Women's Coalition of St. Croix and the Legal Services of the Virgin Islands for their assistance with a previous version of this section.

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