Can 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.”
How 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;1
- 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.2
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.
1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a), (b)
Can 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.
I 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?1
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.
1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)