Due to the Governor of Virginia’s stay-at-home order, many are forced to cohabit with a significant other who may be physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive towards them. Times of personal and financial strain historically exacerbate instances of abuse, and victims of domestic violence are at increased risk now more than ever. Given the pandemic, Courts have closed for general business purposes and resources have become more difficult to obtain. However, emergency court proceedings, such as protective order hearings, are still permitted under both the COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) travel restrictions and declaration of a judicial emergency in Virginia.
When deciding whether to seek a protective order during COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus), many factors must be considered. Is the relief I am asking for directly related to my needs to stay safe? If denied, what plan do I have to stay safe? Can I ask for child support to assist my children? What consequences will a protective order have on my or my partner’s job?
Many forms for relief are available when seeking a protective order, but they must be requested in the initial petition. A court can only grant the relief that was requested in that specific document, which is available the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Clerk’s Office. Some types of relief that the Court can grant at the final hearing, include temporary child support, granting exclusive use of the home, forbidding further acts of abuse and contact, and requiring that communication be through text message or email. A judge can even order the perpetrator not to turn off any utilities or telephone services at the home.
Based on our recent appearances, it seems that some Judges are becoming slightly wary of people who are attempting to utilize the protective order process to address matters that would otherwise be addressed in regular court processes and avoid the court closures due to COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus). Courts may also be less likely to exclude someone from the home all together right now but instead require increased safeguards within the home to protect a petitioner or child in common. However, a person needing protection from a spouse or partner should not be deterred, whether due to this, financial or familial fears and threats.
Shoun Bach understands that the decision to seek assistance and a protective order is a delicate decision to make and could have dangerous consequences, particularly during these unprecedented times. If you would like to discuss your options or representation for a pending case, we are here for you. Please call us at 703-222-3333 or visit our website and send us a confidential message via our website.