Clearly, incidents involving domestic violence occur far too often in what we like to call a “civilized society.” However, if you should happen to be the unfortunate recipient of domestic violence, Virginia law provides you with several options to fight back.
1. Protective Order . . . You can request that the police or your local Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, issue an Emergency Protective Order,” which would remove the abusive spouse from our house for a period up to 15 days, and would absolutely prohibit any contact by the abusive spouse with you or any other family member. Within this 15-day period, an evidentiary hearing would be conducted in your County’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to determine if the Emergency Protective Order should be extended into a “permanent” Protective Order. Whether this is done will depend on your ability to show the presiding judge that you are truly “in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm;”
2. Exclusive Use and Possession . . . As part of any divorce filing, you can ask that the Court award you the “exclusive use and possession” of the marital home, during the pendency of the divorce proceeding. Such an order would prohibit the abusive spouse from coming to your hour while the divorce process is underway;
3. Restricted Visitation . . . Even though one parent’s abusiveness may be directed solely toward you, and not toward any of your children, many judges will place restrictions on the abusive parent’s entitlement to exercise visitation with your children. This could take the form of requiring that visitation occur only during the day; or that it be supervised by a third person; or that it take place only in a public setting; or any combination of the above; and
4. Civil Suit for Damages . . . If you have been physically injured by your spouse, Virginia law gives you the right to sue him or her for money damages. This civil suit would request both compensatory damages for the bodily injuries and mental anguish caused to you, as well as punitive damages of up to $350,000, to punish the abusive spouse for such conduct.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, call an attorney at The Duff Law Firm for a complimentary, 30-minute consultation to discuss your options.