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Protective orders during family fallout or a divorce

Some marriages fall apart slowly — as two people realize they do not align anymore — while others collapse due to extreme pressures. This may create a hostile environment that one spouse feels unsafe. They may feel their children are unsafe as well.

Safety is a tricky balance in the eyes of the law, as it is important to ensure safety immediately while making sure to consider all evidence. Spouses in fear of their or their children’s safety could call the police and secure a protective order.

The police visit

As the Roanoke county website explains, there are a few things a spouse may expect for a visit from law enforcement. Authorities ask what happened, take notes and determine if anyone needs medical treatment. If necessary, they may arrest an offending spouse and obtain an emergency protective order.

The protective order

The Virginia courts describe three types of protective orders. Each requires a petitioner (the victim of any domestic violence) and the respondent (the offending party).

The emergency protective order enforces distance between two people for up to 72 hours. A preliminary order enforces the same limits for up to 15 days before a hearing to examine the case. If the courts deem it necessary after the hearing, they may issue a permanent protective order that lasts up to two years. Some last through the extent of a divorce case.

The limits of a protective order depend on the case but may include restrictions on physical distance, verbal conversation, and digital engagement like emails or texts.

Anyone in fear of their immediate or long-term safety has options from the state of Virginia’s protections. Protective orders the courts award may serve as proof that one spouse acts in the better interests of a child in regard to child custody claims.