How Does a Protective Order Affect Child Custody and Visitation in Virginia?

protective order

Custody disputes can be emotionally taxing and complicated under any circumstances. But what if one spouse has a protective order against the other spouse? How might that affect the accused parent’s custody and visitation rights? Below, we will explore the answers to these questions and examine the reasons why a protective order might be put in place.


Contact a Virginia Beach family law attorney at Pincus Goodman P.C. today if you have further questions about child custody disputes or any other family law matter.


Reasons for a Protective Order 


A protective order, also known as a restraining order, is a legally binding document that protects someone from another person when there is reasonable suspicion of harm or abuse. Some of the reasons why a court may issue a protective order include:


  • Domestic violence – If there is violence or abuse occurring in a household, or if there is fear of abuse (including assault, stalking, etc.), then a court may grant a protective order.
  • Other types of abuse – A parent can also pursue a protective order in situations where a child is being emotionally abused by the other parent. Common types of emotional abuse include threatening violence, humiliation, and controlling behaviors.


Violating a protective order is actually a crime in Virginia (a Class 1 misdemeanor), and if you fail to abide by the terms of the order while it is in effect, you could seriously harm your future custody or visitation rights.


How Will a Restraining Order Affect Custody and Visitation? 


There are two primary ways a protective order could factor into a custody case:

  • A protective order is filed against one parent by the other parent – In general, even if one parent gets a protective order against the other parent, it won’t affect the accused parent’s right to custody or visitation. However, it could affect pickups and dropoffs if both parents share joint custody of the child. It could also impact the non-custodial parent’s visitation schedule.


  • A protective order is granted on behalf of a child – If a parent is suspected of child abuse, then a protective order can certainly impact custody and visitation. Regardless of the custody arrangement or visitation schedule, the protective order would override any pre-existing agreements until the order expires. The custodial parent will most likely retain custody of the child until the issue can be resolved in court. The court’s main priority in deciding custody and visitation will always be the best interests of the child, and if the child is endangered, then it will be difficult for the accused parent to secure custody or visitation rights.


Requesting a protective order based on a false claim is frowned upon by the court. Sometimes, parents who are feeling vindictive will seek a protective order in an effort to get “revenge” against the other parent. Parents who request a protective order based on misleading information could harm their own custody claim.


If a judge has issued a protective order against you, then you should obey the order. Protective orders supersede any custody or visitation agreements, so even if you had shared custody or a set visitation schedule prior to the protective order, you must abide by the terms of the protective order until the order ends. If you believe that the order was unfairly issued against you, you are legally entitled to defend yourself in court. To present a successful case before the judge, you will most likely need an attorney’s help to gather evidence that proves the order was unfair.


Contact a Virginia Beach Family Law Attorney


If your spouse has filed a protective order against you and you are concerned about how the order might affect your custody or visitation rights, contact the Virginia Beach family law attorneys at Pincus Goodman P.C. to discuss your case. In addition to helping you resolve custody disputes, we may also be able to help you fight the protective order if you believe it was unfairly lodged against you.


Contact us today at 757-301-9634 or reach out to us online for a free consultation.



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