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Legal Information: Virginia

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
December 4, 2020

Step 1: Go to court to file a petition.

You can file a petition for a protective order at a juvenile and domestic relations court or circuit court.  Go to the clerk of court and tell him/her you want an application for a protective order. You can also find links to these forms online by going to our VA Download Court Forms page. You can complete the form online and take it with you to the court.  For the location of a court near you, go to our VA Courthouse Locations page.  If you are in immediate danger of abuse and the court is closed, you may get an emergency order by going to the nearest police department. If you are issued this order, it will only be good for 72 hours, or until the court is open again.

On the complaint for protective order form, you will be the “petitioner” and the abuser will be the “respondent.”  Write about the most recent incidents of violence, using descriptive language - words like “slapping,” hitting,” “grabbing,” threatening,” “choking,” etc. - that fits your situation.  Include details and dates, if possible.  Be specific.

If you need assistance filling out the form, ask the clerk for help. Some courts may have an advocate that can assist you. Another option is to find help through one of the domestic violence organizations listed on our VA Advocates and Shelters page.

Note:  Remember to bring some form of personal identification (a driver’s license or other identification that includes your picture).  Be sure to sign the forms in front of the court clerk when you have completed the paperwork.