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Protective orders can help prevent family abuse

Virginia residents who are victims of family abuse may be able to obtain a protective order for situations involving domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault and other potentially harmful acts. If an individual is afraid they may be hurt, killed or sexually assaulted, they may qualify for a protective order. The goal of such an order is to prevent an individual from being harmed and keep away anyone making threats against their safety.

Under the law, there are three types of protective orders available. The first is an emergency protective order. If someone believes they are in immediate danger during the weekend or when the court is closed, a judge can issue this order. It takes effect right away. The alleged abuser does not have to receive a copy of the order or be notified for it to become active. The emergency order expires after three days. Before it expires, an individual needs to request a preliminary protective order. The preliminary order lasts for 15 days.

Before the preliminary order expires, the individual must request a permanent protective order. A permanent order cannot be granted without a hearing. At the hearing, both the person who filed for the protective order and the alleged abuser must tell the court about the situation. Once a permanent order is issued, it is good for two years. An application can be submitted to extend the order, but it must be requested before the expiration date.

A protective order may be able to keep an individual from being harmed by an abusive partner or family member, and it may also be effective in protecting any children. Someone seeking a protective order may wish to work with an attorney to ensure the documents are filed correctly.

Source: Women's Law, "What types of protective orders are there? How long do they last?", November 20, 2014

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