Domestic violence is a serious crime with serious consequences. If you or a loved one is the victim of domestic violence, or any kind of harmful threats, you need to obtain a restraining order to protect yourself. In Virginia, a restraining order is known as a "protective" order.

When domestic violence is an issue in a divorce proceeding, nothing is routine. The alleged victim needs assurance of safety, and the rights of the accused need to be safeguarded.

Protective/Restraining Orders

While divorcing couples do not always retain separate households during proceedings, this is nearly always the case in matters of domestic violence. The safety of the victim and children is paramount. As such, an attorney can help the victim arrange a restraining order, also called a protective order, which prohibit contact by the spouse.

Several types of protective orders are available for petition to the court:

  • Emergency Protective Orders: These last three days, and are ordered either by a judge or magistrate.
  • Preliminary Protective Orders: A judge issues these for a period of 15 days.
  • Permanent Protective Orders: These are issued by a judge and last for two years.

Violation of a protective order is a criminal offense, and can be treated as such in a separate criminal court.


The Accused

Domestic violence may be a factor in a divorce proceeding, but it is also a basis for prosecution in a criminal court. Virginia law recognizes both the rights of the alleged victim and accused. The impact of a conviction for domestic violence can be severe for the accused.