interior of an empty old courtroomThis is the second post in my series on the handling of Protective Orders during a Virginia Beach child custody dispute. My last article provided an overview of topics this series will be addressing and stressed the need to contact an attorney if you find yourself needing, or defending against, a Protective Order. It is important to understand that such an Order is not a “private matter” between two parties and that your custody case will be impacted. In this article I will discuss the process of obtaining an Order. If you have questions then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

Virginia has three basic “levels” of Protective Orders. The first is known as the Emergency Protective Order (EPO) which can be issued 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. Many times these Orders are requested by a law enforcement officer and signed off on by a Judge or Magistrate. As the name suggests, an EPO is issued when there is an acute threat or a violent act has already taken place. EPO’s are meant to last through the weekend and generally expire the first day that the Court is open.

A Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) is a Temporary Restraining Order which generally lasts about fifteen days. A PPO is generally awarded with little evidence; Judge’s err on the side of caution and will assume that there is a perceived threat. A PPO is meant to be a temporary placeholder until a full hearing can be scheduled. A full hearing is the accused’s opportunity to dispute the allegations against them and move to have the PPO dropped. At the hearing, a Judge will either decide that there is not enough evidence to order a PPO or will put a more permanent solution in place. If a Final Protective Order is deemed appropriate, it may be ordered up to two years, at which time it would be re-reviewed.

Final Protective Orders have a great deal of power. They may stipulate that the alleged abuser may not call the victim, must stay away from the victim’s home, place of work, and other places the victim commonly goes. A Final Protective Order may include the victim’s family members and children. Furthermore it can grant the victim custody of minor children, order that the abuser pay the victim child support, order the abuser to pay for household costs, order the abuser to pay for any damages to the victim, and can order the abuser to attend AA, NA or anger management meetings. If the abuser and the victim lived together, the order can effectively evict the abuser immediately.

Obviously, a Final Protective Order has a great deal of power. For a victim it is important that an attorney attend the hearing following the PPO so that all evidence of abuse can be clearly laid out for a Judge. For the person who has had a PPO filed against them it is very important not to ignore the hearing date if one desires to dispute the allegations. If the alleged abuser does not show up for the hearing then a Final Order will likely be put in place. This could lead one to lose custody of their children or forced to move out of their home without having a say. If you wish to file for a protective order, or fight one that has been filed against you, contact counsel who can advocate for your best interest. Call our office today to speak with a Virginia Beach family law attorney.

We also service Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, as well as the surrounding counties of Northampton, Isle of Wight, York, and James City.