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Legal Information: U.S. Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic violence?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a domestic violence restraining order.

U.S. Virgin Islands defines domestic violence as the attempt, threat, or act of:

  • harassment;
  • threats;
  • false imprisonment;
  • stalking;
  • kidnapping;
  • destruction of property;
  • unlawful sexual contact;
  • rape;
  • coercion (forcing/pressuring/intimidating you into doing something);
  • burglary/forcible or unlawful entry;
  • assault/battery; and/or
  • violation of a restraining order.1

1 VI ST T. 16 § 91(b)

What is a domestic violence restraining order? How long does it last?

A restraining order (also called a domestic violence restraining order or DVRO) is a civil court order that is designed to stop violent behavior and keep the abuser away from you.  There are two types of restraining orders in the U.S. Virgin Islands:

An ex parte/temporary restraining order (also called a TRO) is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from the abuser.  A judge may issue a temporary restraining order on the day you file for your permanent restraining order if s/he believes it is necessary to protect the life, health or wellbeing of you or your child.  An ex parte/temporary restraining order is usually issued without prior notice to the abuser and without the abuser present (“ex parte”).  A temporary restraining order will protect you from the time you file until your full court hearing takes place, usually within 10 daysNote: At any point within those 10 days, the abuser can file in court to modify or dismiss that order and the judge may hold a hearing about this issue with both you and the abuser present. However, you are only required to get 24 hours’ prior notice of that hearing.1

A permanent restraining order (also called a PRO) offers the same type of protection as an ex parte/temporary restraining order, but it lasts longer and is generally issued after a hearing in which both you and the abuser can be present.  In this hearing, the abuser will have a chance to defend him/herself.  A permanent restraining order lasts up to two years.  You can ask the court to extend the order for another year, but you must do so before it expires.2 (See How do I modify or extend my order?)

1 VI ST T. 16 § 98(a),(b),(d)
2 VI ST T. 16 § 97(a),(d)

What protections can I get in a domestic violence restraining order?

Both a temporary restraining order) and a permanent restraining order) can:

1. order the abuser:

  • to not commit any act of domestic violence against you, as defined here;
  • to have no contact with you;
  • to stay away from your home, workplace, business, or school;
  • not to harass you or your relatives in any way;
  • to give you possession of the home and exclude the abuser from the home (if you both jointly own or lease the home); if the abuser is the sole owner or lessee, s/he can still be excluded from the home if s/he has a duty to support you or your children who are living in the home – or, if you both agree, the abuser can provide you with alternate (other) housing;
  • not to sell or get rid of property that you own or lease together;
  • to be escorted into your home to get his/her things by a police officer or marshal (or you can be escorted by the police to remove your personal belongings);
  • to pay you for any losses you have suffered as a result of the domestic violence (including paying money you lost due to injuries, moving expenses, your attorney’s fees, and loss of earnings); and/or
  • to seek counseling or attend a batterers’ treatment program; and

2. grant you:

  • temporary child custody (and establish visitation rights while taking necessary steps to protect the safety of you and your children);
  • temporary child support;
  • temporary possession of any personal property you need (such as car, checkbook, keys, etc.).1

Whether the judge orders these things or not depends on the facts of your case.

1 VI ST T. 16 §§ 97(b); 98(b)

Where can I file for a protective order?

You can file for a protective order in the judicial division where you live (permanently or temporarily), where the abuser lives, or where the abuse occurred.1  If you are unsure how to figure out the boundaries of a judicial division, you may want to contact an attorney who is familiar with the local laws.  Please see our VI Finding a Lawyer page for more information.  Also, if you have left your home and want to keep the address where you are staying confidential, filing in that judicial division may not be a good idea since it could alert the abuser to the fact that you are staying in that area.

1 VI ST T. 16 § 96(a)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.

Who can get a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO)

Who can get a domestic violence restraining order?

You can get a temporary restraining order or permanent restraining order against:

  • your current or former spouse;
  • a parent;
  • a child;
  • any other person related to you by blood or marriage;1
  • someone of the opposite sex who lives in your home or has lived in your home;2
  • an individual with whom you have a child in common;
  • a person with whom you have been or are in a sexual or intimate relationship.1

1 VI ST T. 16 § 91(c)
2 VI ST T. 16 § 91(a), (c)

Can I get a domestic violence restraining order against a same-sex partner?

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, you may apply for a domestic violence restraining order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can get a domestic violence restraining order? You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

Can minors get domestic violence restraining orders?

What if I don't qualify for a domestic violence restraining order?

If you do not qualify for a domestic violence restraining order, you may still be able to get help if the abuser has committed a crime. For example, assault, stalking, and harassment are against the law. If one of these crimes (or any other criminal act) is being committed against you, you can report it to law enforcement. If charges are pressed against the abuser, a judge may be able to order him/her to stay away from you. To read the definitions of some common crimes in the U.S. Virgin Islands, go to our VI Crimes page.

You can also visit our Safety Tips page for ways to increase your safety. If you are being stalked or harassed, the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center website for more resources related to stalking and harassment, as well safety planning information. Restraining orders also do not cover many types of emotional or mental abuse. If you’re being mentally or emotionally abused, please contact a domestic violence organization in your area. They may be able to help you figure out your options and offer you support. You can find one near you on the VI Advocates and Shelters page.

How much does it cost to get a domestic violence restraining order? Do I need a lawyer?

Nothing.  There is no filing fee to get a restraining order.1

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for a restraining order, it may be to your advantage to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, if you can, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.  If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance and domestic violence organizations on the VI Places that Help page.  Domestic violence organizations in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms.  You will find contact information for courthouses on the VI Courthouse Locations page.

1U.S. Virgin Islands Superior Court website

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

The steps for filing for a domestic violence restraining order

Step 1: Go to the Family Division of the Territorial Court.

Go to the Family Division of the Territorial Court to request a temporary restraining order, and/or a permanent restraining order.  If you live on St. John, you must go to court in St. Thomas to request a temporary restraining order or permanent restraining order.  To find contact information for the courthouse in your area, click on VI Courthouse Locations.  During business hours, go to the clerk’s office. Tell the clerk that you want to file for a permanent restraining order, and the clerk (or other court staff) can help you fill out the necessary forms to file.2  If you are in immediate danger and need emergency protection, tell the clerk you also need an ex parte/temporary restraining order.

1U.S. Virgin Islands Superior Court website
2VI ST T. 16 § 96(d)

Step 2: Bring identification and information about the abuser.

It can be helpful to bring information about the abuser, if you have it, including contact information (address and phone number) and a description of his/her appearance.

Remember to bring some form of personal identification as well (a driver’s license or other identification that includes your picture) since this may be needed to get your signature notarized in court.

Step 3: Fill out the necessary forms.

Check to see if the forms are available online by going to our VI Download Court Forms page.

On the complaint for a permanent restraining order, you will be the “petitioner” and the abuser will be the “respondent.” Write briefly 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.  You may also want to include any previous court action(s) that you have taken against the abuser.  You do not have to include your address on the complaint.1  If you do include your address, be sure to use a safe mailing address and phone number.  If you are staying at a shelter with a confidential location, you may want to consider using a Post Office Box, not a street address, if possible.  If you need assistance filling out the form, ask the clerk for help.2  Some courts may also have an advocate that can assist you.  You may also find help through one of the domestic violence organizations listed on our VI Advocates and Shelters page.

Note: Be sure to sign the forms in front of the clerk of court.  The forms may have to be notarized by the clerk of court.

1 VI ST T. 16 § 96(c)
2 VI ST T. 16 § 96(d)

Step 4: The ex-parte/temporary restraining order hearing

If you request a temporary restraining order, the clerk will give your forms to the judge for your ex parte/temporary restraining order hearing. Ex parte means that the abuser does not have to be present or given notice of the hearing. This is a preliminary hearing where the judge can grant you a temporary restraining order for 10 days.1 At this hearing, the judge will read your petition and ask you why you want a temporary restraining order. If the judge believes you have shown “good cause” that an emergency order is needed to protect your life, health, or wellbeing or the wellbeing of a victim on whose behalf you filed, the judge may grant you a temporary restraining order.2 If the judge grants a temporary restraining order, the court clerk will give you a copy of the order. Review the order before you leave the courthouse to make sure that the information is correct. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.

Be sure to keep it with you at all times. You may want to keep copies in your car, workplace, or daycare. The judge will also set a hearing date for your full permanent restraining order hearing. If the judge does not grant you a temporary restraining order at the ex-parte hearing, you will may still be given a court date for a full permanent restraining order hearing (assuming your petition is not dismissed), which would be scheduled to occur within the next 10 days.3

1 VI ST T. 16 § 98(d)
2 VI ST T. 16 § 98(b)
3 VI ST T. 16 § 97(a)

Step 5: Service of process.

The abuser must be served with the papers that tell him/her about the hearing date and your temporary restraining order (if the judge gave you one). The clerk will forward the order to the marshal and the appropriate chief of police.1 The marshal will then find the abuser and serve him/her notice of the temporary restraining order (if the judge gave you one) as well as the date and time of the scheduled permanent restraining order hearing.1 There is no charge to have the authorities serve the abuser. Do not attempt to serve the papers on the abuser yourself.

Note: After the abuser is served with the temporary restraining order, s/he can ask the judge to dismiss or change the order. If the abuser does ask the judge to dismiss or change the order, a hearing will be scheduled and s/he is required to give you only 24 hours’ notice of the hearing. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to grant the abuser’s request.2

1 VI ST T. 16 § 98(c)
2 VI ST T. 16 § 98(d)

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

Step 6: The hearing for a permanent restraining order

A judge will set a hearing date within 10 days of filing for your order.1

You must go to the hearing.  If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire, and you will have to start the process over.  If the abuser does not show up for the hearing the judge may still grant you a restraining order, or the judge may order a new hearing date.
You have the right to bring a lawyer to represent you at the hearing.  If you show up to court and the abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a continuance to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself.  It can be especially difficult to represent yourself in court against an attorney.  If the judge does issue a continuance, the judge should also reissue or extend your temporary order since your original one will probably expire before the rescheduled hearing.  You may want to call a local domestic violence program if you have any questions before your hearing.  Go to our VI Advocates and Shelters for a list domestic violence organizations.

See the At the Hearing page for ways you can show the judges you were abused.

1 VI ST T. 16 § 97(a)

After the hearing

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in the U.S. Virgin Islands have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some things you may want to consider doing. However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse.
  • If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the restraining order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times. Inform your employer, domestic violence advocate, family members, and/or your closest friends that you have a restraining order in effect.
  • 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.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number, as well as taking other security precautions.

It is important to recognize that a restraining order has limits.  You have the right to report every violation to the police or the court.  You may also wish to make a safety plan.  People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school.  Many abusers obey restraining orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  Click on the following link for suggestions on Safety Tips.

Also, advocates at local domestic violence organizations may be able to assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  To find an advocate in your area please visit the VI Advocates and Shelters page.

I was not granted a restraining order. What can I do?

If you are not granted a restraining order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe.  It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe.  They may be able to help you come up with a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need.  You will find a list of U.S. Virgin Islands resources on our VI Advocates and Shelters page.

You can also find safety planning tips on our Safety Tips page.  You may also be able to reapply for a restraining order if a new incident of domestic violence occurs after you are denied the order.

You may also want to consider reporting any criminal activity to the police.  For more information about crimes in the U.S. Virgin Islands, please go to our VI Crimes page.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Violating a temporary restraining order or permanent restraining order can be against the law.1 There are two ways to get help if the abuser violates the restraining order.

1. Through the police or sheriff: If the defendant violates the restraining order, you can call 911 immediately. In some cases, the defendant can be arrested right away. Tell the officers you have a restraining order, and the defendant is violating it. If the defendant is arrested, then the district attorney’s office can prosecute the abuser because it can be a crime to violate a restraining order.

2. Through the civil court system: You may also file for civil contempt when the abuser violates the order. The abuser can be in civil contempt and punished by the judge in some way if s/he does anything that your restraining order prohibits him/her from doing. To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk’s office and ask for the forms to file for contempt of court for violation of a restraining order.

1 VI ST T. 16 § 97(e)

How do I change and/or extend my restraining order?

Before your permanent restraining order expires, you may apply to the court to have your order extended. You will have to go back to court for a hearing to tell the judge why you believe it is necessary to extend the order. If the judge believes there is good cause, s/he may extend the order. For any other changes, you can request that the judge modify (change) your order. You must show the judge that there is good cause to change the order.1

1 VI ST T. 16 § 97(d)

What happens if I move?

If you move from the U.S. Virgin Islands to another U.S. territory or state (or vice versa), your permanent restraining order can be enforced even if you move to another territory or to the United States.  If you move, your order must be given “full faith and credit” in any other state, territorial or tribal court,1 which means that your order will be good wherever you go.

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 §§ 2265, 2266

Stalking Protection Orders

A stalking protection order is a civil order that provides protection from stalking/cyberstalking committed by someone who is not an intimate partner or family/household member.

Basic info and definitions

What is a stalking protection order?

A stalking protection order is a court order that aims to protect victims of stalking or cyberstalking by someone with whom you do not have an intimate or familial relationship1 (such as an acquaintance, co-worker, neighbor, or stranger).  If you have an intimate, family-member, or household-member relationship with the person stalking you, you may qualify for a domestic violence restraining order instead.

1 VI ST T. 5 § 1471(a)

What is the legal definition of stalking in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

Stalking is when someone purposely and repeatedly follows you and engages in a course of conduct or makes a credible threat with the intent of annoying you or placing you in reasonable fear of death or bodily harm or injury and causes you emotional distress.1

An abuser makes a “credible threat” when s/he makes an explicit or implicit threat with the intent and the apparent ability to carry out the threat, so as to cause you to reasonably fear for your personal safety or the safety of a family member.2

1 VI ST T. 5 §§ 2071(a); 1472(1)
2 VI ST T. 5 §§ 2071(b); 1472(2)

What is the legal definition of cyberstalking in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

Cyberstalking is defined as when someone communicates (or is responsible for communicating) words, images, or language to you through email or electronic communication that causes you substantial emotional distress. The communication must be directed at you and cannot serve a legitimate purpose.1

1 VI ST T. 5 §§ 1472(5); 2071(e)

What is a course of conduct?

A course of conduct is an act that happens more than once, however brief, within a year, that is directed specifically at you and shows a continuing purpose to cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress. A course of conduct can include the following behavior (done directly or indirectly and by any action, method, or by any device):

  • monitoring;
  • observing;
  • pursuing;
  • threatening;
  • communicating to or about you; or
  • interfering with your property.1

1 VI ST T. 5 § 1472(c)

What protections can I get in a stalking protection order?

In a stalking protection order, the judge can order the abuser (or anyone acting on the abuser’s behalf) not to:

  • follow you or harass you in person or by telephone, computer, or by any other form of communication;
  • abuse, molest, or interfere with your privacy rights;
  • enter your property, residence, or place of employment, or come within fifty feet of those locations;
  • The judge can also order anything else necessary to keep you safe.1

Note: The judge can order the abuser to pay your attorney’s fees and can award you money for injuries you suffered during an incident. If the judge finds that your request for a protection order was not in good faith, the judge may order you to pay the respondent’s attorney’s fees.2

1 VI ST T. 5 § 1475(a)
2 VI ST T. 5 § 1475(e)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.

Getting the order

Who can file for a stalking protection order? Can a minor file?

If you are an adult and are a victim of stalking, you can apply for a stalking protection order. You must include your name, the name or a description of the abuser, the dates of the act(s), and a description of the act(s) that you claim constitute stalking.1 If you are a minor and are a victim of stalking, a parent, guardian, or adult residing with you can file on your behalf.2

1 VI ST T. 5 § 1473(a)
2 VI ST T. 5 § 1473(b)

What types of stalking protection orders are there? How long do they last?

For good cause shown, the judge can issue a temporary order when you file your petition if s/he considers it necessary. A hearing will be scheduled no longer than 10 days after your petition is filed, and you and the abuser will both have a chance to present evidence to the judge and tell your side of the story. You and the abuser both have the right to have an attorney represent you. If your hearing is continued or rescheduled to a new date, the judge can extend your temporary order but only for another 10 days.1

After a hearing where the abuser has notice and the judge hears evidence, the judge may issue a stalking protection order that must remain in effect for a period of up to two years or until amended, modified or dismissed by the judge. However, you can ask the court to extend your order for an additional one year.2

1 VI ST T. 5 § 1474
2 VI ST T. 5 § 1475(b),(c)

Moving to Another State with a Restraining Order

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

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.

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

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)

Getting your Restraining Order Enforced in Another State

How 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.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 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.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do 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.

Do 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.

Enforcing custody provisions in another state

I 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 Places that Help page.

I 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.1

1 18 USC § 2266

Enforcing your Out-Of-State Order in the U.S. Virgin Islands

If you are planning to move to the U.S. Virgin Islands or are going to be in the U.S. Virgin Islands for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General Rules for Out-of-State orders in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Can I get my restraining order enforced in the U.S. Virgin Islands? What are the requirements?

Yes. Your restraining order can be enforced in the U.S. Virgin Islands 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 have my out-of-state restraining order changed, extended, or canceled in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

No.  Only the state that issued your restraining order can change, extend, or cancel the order.  You cannot have this done by a court in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued.  To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in the U.S. Virgin Islands, you may be able to get a new one issued in the U.S. Virgin Islands but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  To find out more information on how to get a domestic violence restraining order in the U.S. Virgin Islands, visit our VI Restraining Orders page.

I was granted temporary custody with my restraining order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

Yes.  As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 the U.S. Virgin Islands can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets these standards, contact a lawyer in your area.  To find a lawyer in your area click here VI Finding a Lawyer.

1 The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

Registering your Out-of-State order in the U.S. Virgin Islands

If I don’t have a hard copy of my out-of-state order, how can law enforcement enforce it?

To enforce an out-of-state order, law enforcement typically may rely on the National Crime Information Center Protection Order File (NCIC-POF). The NCIC-POF is a nationwide, electronic database that contains information about orders of protection that were issued in each state and territory in the U.S. The Protection Order File (POF) contains court orders that are issued to prevent acts of domestic violence, or to prevent someone from stalking, intimidating, or harassing another person. It contains orders issued by both civil and criminal state courts. The types of protection orders issued and the information contained in them vary from state to state.1

There is no way for the general public to access the NCIC-POF. That means you cannot confirm a protection order is in the registry or add a protection order to the registry without the help of a government agency that has access to it.

Typically, the state police or criminal justice agency in the state has the responsibility of reporting protection orders to NCIC. However, in some cases, the courts have taken on that role and they manage the protection order reporting process.2 NCIC–POF is used by law enforcement agencies when they need to verify and enforce an out-of-state protection order. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

However, not all states routinely enter protection orders into the NCIC. Instead, some states may enter the orders only in their own state protection order registry, which would not be accessible to law enforcement in other states. According to a 2016 report by the National Center for State Courts, more than 700,000 protection orders that were registered in state protection order databases were not registered in the federal NCIC Protection Order File.2 This means that if a law enforcement officer is trying to enforce a protection order from another state that is missing from the NCIC, the victim would likely need to show the officer a hard copy of the order to get it immediately enforced. If you no longer have a copy of your original order, you may want to contact the court that issued the order to ask them how you can get another copy sent to you.

1 National Center for Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit
2 See State Progress in Record Reporting for Firearm-Related Background Checks: Protection Order Submissions, prepared by the National Center for State Courts, April 2016

How do I register my restraining order in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

You can file (register) your protection order in the U.S. Virgin Islands by giving a certified copy of your order to the clerk of Superior Court or to the Attorney General’s office and ask that it be registered with the clerk of the Superior Court.1  Additionally, the law says that you need to also file an affidavit that says that to the best of your knowledge, the order is still in effect.2

If you need help registering your restraining order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in the U.S. Virgin Islands for assistance.  You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our VI Advocates and Shelters page.

1 VI ST T. 5 § 585(a)
2 VI ST T. 5 § 585(d)

Do I have to register my restraining order in the U.S. Virgin Islands in order to get it enforced?

No. The U.S. Virgin Islands’ law gives full protection to an out-of-state restraining order as long as you can show the officer a copy of the order and can truthfully tell the officer that you believe the order is still in effect. The police officer does need to believe that it is a valid (real) order.1

1 VI ST T. 5 § 583(b)

Will the abuser be notified if I register my restraining order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Tips page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan.  You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our VI Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

What if I don't register my restraining order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

Neither federal law nor state law requires that you register your restraining order in order to get have it enforced.  If your order is not entered into the state registry, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ law enforcement should still enforce your order if it:

  • identifies the protected individual and the respondent;
  • is currently in effect;
  • was issued by a court that had jurisdiction (power) to issue the order; and
  • was issued after the respondent was given adequate notice and opportunity to be heard in reasonable time.1

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.  An advocate there may be able to help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, go to our VI Advocates and Shelters page.

1 VI ST T. 5 § 583(d)

Does it cost anything to register my restraining order?

No. There is no fee for filing your restraining order in the U.S. Virgin Islands.1

1 VT ST T. 5 § 585(f)