In Virginia protective orders can be issued between family or household members under Virginia Code Section 16.1-253.1 or if the parties do not meet the definition of family or household member, under Virginia Code Section 19.2-152.9. Family or household members is defined by the Virginia Code as, “the person’s spouse, the person’s former spouse, the person’s parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, in-laws, individuals with a child in common and individuals that cohabitate within the previous 12 months.”
Under Virginia Code Section 16.1-253.1, a preliminary protective order in cases of family abuse may be granted in an ex parte proceeding. Ex partemeans that only the petitioner goes before a judge seeking a protective order. The Court may grant the preliminary protective order upon an affidavit or sworn testimony by the Petitioner. In order to grant the preliminary protective order, the court must find the following: The Petitioner was the subject of an act involving violence, force, or threat that resulted in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury. The events alleged by the Petitioner under Virginia Code Section 16.1-253.1 must have taken place within a, “reasonable period of time.”
When granting a preliminary protective order, the Court may impose the following conditions: prohibit acts of family abuse, prohibit contact between family members, grant possession of residence to petitioner, grant possession of vehicles, grant possession of companion animals as defined and prohibit either party from cutting off utilities to homes.
Within 15 days of the issuance of a preliminary protective order, the court under Virginia Code Section 16.1-279.1 must hold a full hearing on the matter. This means that the Respondent has the ability to hear the evidence against them, confront their accuser, cross-examine the accuser and put on any evidence they wish for the court to hear. At the conclusion of the full hearing, if the court finds that by a preponderance of the evidence that the Petitioner has proven they are the victim of family abuse, a final protective order, for up to two years may be issued against the Respondent. At the conclusion of a full hearing for a protective order in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, either party may appeal the outcome to the Circuit Court within 10 days of the ruling.
Individuals that do not meet the definition of family or household members may seek a protective order under Virginia Code Section 19.2-152.9, in the General District Court if they have been subjected to violence, force or threat.