Living with a violent spouse is a very dangerous situation. People often fear that something they say or do could lead to a violent response. When someone experiencing domestic violence tries to leave, their risk of a violent incident actually increases.
One of the most dangerous times for someone experiencing domestic violence is when they try to get out of that situation. Virginia recognizes how difficult successfully exiting an abusive relationship can be. As a result, souses, unmarried romantic partners, family members and even roommates can request protective orders from the courts to limit their risk and create consequences for the other party involved in the situation.
Someone who is planning to file for divorce because of domestic violence may want a protective order. How long does it take to obtain an order from the courts in Virginia?
Emergency protective orders may only take a single day
Depending on when someone decides to leave and the support that they have, it is often possible to obtain a same-day hearing in front of a judge. That judge can then grant an emergency protective order. Such orders typically only last for 72 hours. However, they can be an important initial step toward protecting someone from domestic violence.
Preliminary orders are also available
Someone with an emergency protective order can then request a preliminary protective order (PPO) from the courts. The person seeking the order will need to speak with a judge to convince them that the PPO is necessary. There is a slightly more involved process when requesting a temporary order. A PPO can last for up to 15 days. Ideally, someone in need of a protective order will be able to obtain a PPO before the emergency order they previously requested expires.
A permanent order requires a formal hearing
The longest-lasting protective order is a permanent protective order (PO). A judge will schedule the hearing for a PO at a PPO hearing. Typically, the courts will only grant a final or permanent PO after giving both parties involved in the situation a chance to present their side of the case. A PO can last for up to two years. People can also potentially renew or extend that order when the time comes for it to expire.
Protective orders don’t automatically prevent interpersonal violence or stalking, but they do deter bad behavior. They can also create consequences for actions that would otherwise have few risks for an abuser. Seeking legal guidance can make it easier to obtain a protective order and to take the other legal steps necessary to protect oneself from domestic violence.