Family abuse is conduct by a family or household member that involves threats, force, or violence that cause physical injury or the reasonable fear of injury or assault. A history of family abuse can be grounds for a fault-based divorce and is also considered by the Court when determining custody and parenting time in the best interests of the children. Domestic violence may include family abuse as well as financial, emotional, and other oppressive means to assert power and control over a partner. Let Lu Aloupas be your advocate and get you the help you need. Whether you or our children have been the targets of domestic violence, you should seek immediate legal protection for victims to prevent continued or repeated acts of abuse.

Understanding Protective Orders in the Commonwealth of Virginia

There are three distinct types of protective orders under Virginia law based on the stage of the case. The primary objective of protective orders is to provide legal protection for victims to prevent abuse by barring or restricting contact with the victim(s). While a protective order is a civil matter, violation of a protective order is a criminal matter that may include incarceration.

Emergency Protective Orders (EPO). This emergency order is effective for 72 hours, which allows for a 'cooling off' period and time for the victim to decide whether a more permanent order is needed.

Preliminary Protective Order (PPO). The preliminary protective order is an extension of the EPO until the Court conducts a full hearing, typically within 15 days. In most cases, the original terms of the EPO will carry over to the Preliminary Protective Order.

Permanent Protective Order (PO).  After a full hearing is conducted, the Court can enter a permanent Protective Order, which is in effect for two years, although the Court may determine a shorter period, depending on the facts of the case.  The PO may award the victim exclusive use of the residence, order the perpetrator to pay temporary child support, and prohibit the perpetrator from disconnecting any utilities, including the victim's cell phone.  In extreme cases, a permanent order may be extended beyond the two-year expiration.

Contested Divorce – Impact of Family Abuse

Family abuse can serve as grounds for a contested divorce, which may impact financial issues like the division of marital property. Evidence of domestic violence also will factor into custody and parenting time orders. The extent to which allegations of domestic abuse affect a parenting plan will depend on the severity of the incidents and the strength of the evidence.

While the Commonwealth of Virginia favors both parents sharing joint physical and legal custody, the court might relegate a parent to visits supervised by another adult or agency based on evidence of family abuse. Even if a court finds that such orders are appropriate, the parent with supervised visits may be able to seek to remove this restriction or seek a larger amount of parenting time after completing a domestic violence class or satisfying other conditions. In cases where there are serious concerns about the safety of the children, the court might even terminate the parental rights of a parent, but this is rare.

Protecting Your Rights When You Have Been Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence

Unfortunately, some people make false allegations of domestic violence, thinking it will help them in their divorce or custody case.  If you believe you have been falsely accused of family abuse, count on Lu Aloupas to be your advocate in court.  Having a protective order against you impacts your rights under the Second Amendment and may impact your security clearance or ability to find a job.  It is important to have an experienced attorney in your corner to defend against damaging false allegations.