Preliminary Protective Orders

Obtaining a Preliminary Protective Order

To obtain a preliminary protective order (VA State § 19.2-152.9) a person (the petitioner) is or has been, within a reasonable period of time, subjected to family abuse, the court may issue a preliminary protective order against an allegedly abusing person (respondent). This is in order to protect the health and safety of the petitioner or any family or household member of the petitioner. The order may be issued in an ex parte (ex parte means that the one party must be present) proceeding upon good cause shown when the petition is supported by an affidavit or sworn testimony before the judge or intake officer. Immediate and present dangers of family abuse or evidence establish good cause.


The order may include any one or more of the following conditions to be imposed on the respondent:

  • Prohibiting acts of family abuse.
  • Prohibiting such other contacts between the parties as the court deems appropriate.
  • Granting the petitioner (victim) possession of the residence occupied by the parties, however, no such grant of possession shall affect title to any real or personal property.
  • Prohibit the respondent from terminating any necessary utility service to a premises that the petitioner has been granted possession and when appropriate having respondent to restore utility services to such premises.
  • Granting the petitioner temporary possession or use of a motor vehicle owned by the petitioner alone or jointly; however, no such grant of possession or use shall affect title to the vehicle.
  • Requiring that the allegedly abusing person provide suitable alternative housing for the petitioner and any other family or household member and, where appropriate, requiring the respondent to pay deposits to connect or restore necessary utility services in the alternative housing provided.
  • Any other relief necessary for the protection of the petitioner and family or household members of the petitioner.


The hearing shall be held within 15 days of the issuance of the preliminary order. If the respondent fails to appear at this hearing because the respondent was not personally served, the court may extend the protective order for a period not to exceed six months. The extended protective order shall be served as soon as possible on the respondent. However, if the respondent decides not to attend, the court may continue the hearing. The preliminary order shall remain in effect until the hearing. Upon request after the order is issued. The order shall further specify that either party may at any time file a motion with the court requesting a hearing to dissolve.