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Legal Information: Virginia

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
December 4, 2020

How do I get my protective order enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your protective 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 protective order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1 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 Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

Note: It is important to keep a copy of your protective order with you at all times. It is also 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.

 1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do I need anything special to get my protective order enforced in another state?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your protective order. A certified copy says that it is a “true and correct” copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it. In Virginia, if you are given a certified copy at the time your protective order is issued, the order will have the judge’s original signature on it. However, if you need to get another certified copy for any reason, or if you were not given one originally, you can call or go to the courthouse that issued your order. The clerk’s office will be able to help you get a certified copy of your order, which will have a stamp on it from the court clerk’s office. There is no fee to get a certified copy of your order.

Note: It is generally a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You may also want to leave copies of the order 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 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. You may also want to give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

Can I get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your protective order enforced in another state.

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

To find a domestic violence advocate, go to our Advocates and Shelters page.  To find an attorney in the state you are moving to, go to our Finding a Lawyer page.

Do I need to tell the court in Virginia if I move?

It may be a good idea to give the court that issued your protective order an up-to-date mailing address in case court personnel needs to communicate with you if anything happens to your protective order (for example, if the abuser asks the court to dismiss/modify the order). If you will not be receiving mail at your old address, you may want to provide the court with a new address where you can receive mail. If you feel unsafe giving your new address, you may want to use the address of a friend you trust or a P.O. box instead.