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Legal Information: Virginia

Restraining Orders

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December 4, 2020

What protections can I get in a (final) protective order?

A protective order can:

  • order the abuser to stop abusing you;
  • order the abuser to stop contacting you or your family or household members;
  • order the abuser to leave your house, and give you temporary possession of the house (Note: This does not change who owns the house on paper);
  • order the abuser to not shut off the utilities, and to restore utilities, if applicable;
  • require the abuser to provide suitable alternative housing for you and other family/household members, and to pay deposits to have utilities connected or restored in this housing;
  • give you temporary possession of any jointly owned motor vehicles, prevent the abuser from using the vehicle, and order the abuser to keep insurance policies, taxes, and registration current (Note: Getting possession of the car does not affect the title/ownership of the car);
  • grant you (and, where appropriate, any of your family or household members) exclusive use and possession of a cell phone number or electronic device and order that the abuser cannot turn off your cell phone or electronic device before the contract with the third-party provider ends;
  • prohibit the abuser from using a cell phone or other electronic device to locate you (by putting a tracking app on your phone, for example);
  • order the abuser to participate in treatment, counseling or other programs;
  • grant you temporary custody of your children or temporary visitation for any children you have in common with the abuser;
  • grant you a temporary child support order for the support of any children you have with the abuser;
  • grant you possession of a pet or companion animal (if you are considered an owner of the pet); and
  • provide any other relief necessary to protect you and your family.1

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

Note: Be sure to tell the judge if the abuser owns any weapons. However, even if it not written into the order, federal law states that someone with a protective order against him/her cannot own, purchase or transport firearms.

1 Va. Code § 16.1-279.1