Your thoughts race as your heartbeat echoes in your throat. You feel like you have been walking on eggshells. Your partner had a short temper before the COVID-19 crisis, and now that you are both at home without being able to escape to the office, run daily errands, socialize with friends, family, or even your chatty neighbor, everything seems to set him or her ‘off’.
You are not alone. Many families are feeling heightened tension as we navigate the unknowns of this worldwide health crisis together. With the Temporary Stay at Home Order Due to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) issued by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on March 30, 2020, people are being exposed to increasingly dangerous situations, not just from the outside world, but from their spouses or significant others too.
What happens when pre-existing problems at home get worse, as spouses and … Read More »
You’re in a messy relationship with the other parent of your child—so messy that one of you has secured a no contact protective order against the other. How does that protective order affect the type of custody the court will award in your custody case? It might seem natural to assume that the court would refrain from awarding joint legal custody at a final custody hearing when the parties have a no contact protective order in place. After all, how would parents share the decision-making responsibilities of their child when they are prohibited from directly communicating with each other?
In most custody cases, courts are inclined to award joint legal custody because Virginia courts are statutorily mandated to assure frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children. Pursuant … Read More »
Relationships, custody disputes and divorces can all be volatile, with emotions running high. The emotions can spill over into harsh words or abusive behavior. Virginia law allows courts to enter protective orders, both long term and short term, to protect individuals against family abuse. These protective orders can protect not only the party seeking the protective order but also any other members of the household, such as children, other family members, or roommates.
Virginia Code § 16.1-253.1 provides courts the statutory authority to enter “preliminary protective orders” in Virginia. A preliminary protective order is usually done ex parte, meaning without the alleged abuser present, and is done either on an affidavit by the petitioner or by sworn oral testimony of the petitioner. If the court finds that “within a reasonable period of time” the petitioner has been subjected to “family abuse,” … Read More »
Parties facing a divorce or other family law litigation in Virginia often ask the question: would it help their case to record telephone conversations with the opposing party? The answer to this question may surprise you.
The Virginia Code sets out a surprising barrier for the use of recorded telephone conversations. Virginia Code Section 8.01-420.2 sets a general bar to the admissibility of recorded phone calls in civil court proceedings, unless all parties are aware that the conversation is being recorded. Unlike voicemails and recorded physical interactions, a telephone conversation would provide the opportunity to record without all parties’ awareness that the recording was being made. In a voicemail, the party intends that the message will be recorded, and pulling out your phone and placing it on the table is a tipoff that you may be recording an in-person interaction.
For telephone conversations, however, Section 8.01-420.2 … Read More »
Last year, Virginia expanded the relief available to victims of domestic violence obtaining a final protective order. The typical remedies a victim of family abuse may seek in Virginia are found in Virginia Code Section 16.1-279.1, and include prohibiting acts of future family abuse, prohibiting some or all contact between the victim and the offender, and granting possession of the residence occupied by the parties to the petitioning party. The option of an abuse victim to terminate a rental agreement early, however, is not contained in this Section. It is instead located in Virginia Code Chapter 55, which deals with property and conveyances.
Virginia Code Sections 55-225.16 and 55-248.21:2 both provide that any tenant who has been a victim of (a) family abuse, (b) sexual abuse, or (c) other criminal sexual assault may terminate their rental agreement under certain circumstances. Those … Read More »
Each year several bills are introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates or the Virginia Senate, but only a few get passed and approved into law. One of the bills that was introduced and passed during this year’s session will expand protective orders in Virginia in an interesting way. The bill, House Bill No. 972, effectively grants judges in Virginia the authority to award pet possession as part of protective orders. This new law will go into effect on July 1, 2014.
Under current Virginia law, a person who has been a victim of violence, force, or threat that has resulted in bodily injury or places them in reasonable apprehension of the same, can seek a protective order. As explained in Protective Orders in Virginia, these orders can be sought via a court or a magistrate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on an … Read More »
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you should be aware that the issuance of a civil protective order order can, and very well may, affect your right to purchase, possess or transport a firearm in Virginia.
Federal Law Regarding Firearms and Domestic Violence
The best known restriction is found in federal law, which prohibits you from possessing, shipping, transporting, or receiving any firearm, if four conditions are met:
a protective order has been issued against you.
the protective order pertains to your “intimate partner” or the child of such “intimate partner.” The term “intimate partner” is defined to include a spouse, former spouse, person with whom you have a child or have cohabited, but not a girlfriend or boyfriend with whom you have not cohabited.
the protective order was issued after an evidentiary hearing, and you had notice and an opportunity to participate … Read More »
For many people the first time they need the assistance of counsel is when there are issues in their relationship. An unfortunate consequence of relationships ending is sometimes domestic violence. In Virginia, persons who experience domestic violence or have a reasonable fear of domestic violence can seek civil protective orders and sometimes the alleged abuser can be criminally prosecuted. This overlap of civil protective orders and criminal charges has important consequences for how these cases are handled in Virginia.
There are three types of civil protective orders in Virginia: (1) emergency protective orders, (2) preliminary protective orders and (3) permanent protective orders.
An emergency protective order under Virginia Code Section 16.1-253.4 may prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim, entering the victim’s home or apartment (even if shared), or abusing the victim in the future. Typically, it is obtained through … Read More »
Emergency protective orders can be issued in Virginia 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. An emergency protective order can be issued by any circuit court, general district court, or juvenile and domestic relations district court judge, or by any magistrate. Given the urgency of many situations, a law enforcement officer may request an emergency protective order orally, in person, or by electronic means. The judge or magistrate may issue an oral emergency protective order, which must be reduced to writing by the law enforcement officer who made the request.
Because of the emergency nature of family abuse situations, an emergency protective order can be issued ex parte, with no notice to the alleged abuser (the defendant). There must be reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant has committed family abuse against a family or household member and that there … Read More »