If you are a victim of domestic violence in West Virginia, you may wonder if you need a family protective order to shield yourself and your loved ones from further harm. These orders are to protect you. The benefits of these is that they can keep the abuser out of your home and, potentially, grant you temporary child custody. You can also ask for support too, depending on the facts of your case. But, how do you know if you qualify for a family protective order and when should you seek one?
Are you experiencing domestic violence?
Domestic violence is defined as causing physical harm, attempting to cause physical harm or threatening physical harm to someone who is a family or household member. DV can be both violent and nonviolent, or some combination. It can also be verbal harassment or psychological abuse.
A family or household member includes a spouse or ex-spouse, intimate partner, person you dated, person with whom you have a child or other relationship. Partners are people who are or were married, living together, sexually intimate, dating or have a child in common even if they have not married or lived together.
How do you get the order?
You can get a family protective order by filing a petition in magistrate court. You can find the forms online or at any magistrate office in West Virginia. You can file the petition in any county, no matter where you or your abuser live. You can also request that your address be kept confidential, if you fear for your safety.
What happens after you file the petition?
After you file the petition, a magistrate will hold an emergency hearing and ask you questions about the abuse. If there is evidence of an immediate and present danger, the magistrate will issue an emergency protective order that will last until a final hearing in family court. The magistrate will also schedule the final hearing and notify your abuser of the date and time.
What happens at the final hearing?
At the final hearing, you and your abuser will have a chance to present evidence and witnesses to support your case. A family court judge will decide whether to grant or deny a final protective order based on the evidence. A final protective order can last for 90 or 180 days, and it can be extended for another 90 days, if needed.
If this is your situation, you likely need a family protective order. A family protective order can help you stop the abuse and start a new life.