Domestic Relations Services

Fairfax County, Virginia


TTY 711

4110 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 202
Fairfax, VA 22030

Laura Harris,
Unit Director

Protective Order / Domestic Violence


If there are incident(s) of family abuse, the court can order a person to have no contact, or limited contact, with the victim or victim's children, or to leave the home and stay away for a certain period of time. This is called a Protective Order (sometimes known as a Restraining Order).  If a person does not follow the rules and violates the protective order, that person can be arrested. 

The law clearly states that Family Abuse is an act involving violence, force, or threat, including any forceful detention which results in physical injury or places one in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault or bodily injury, and is committed by a person against a family or household member.

Step 1

Request a Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) from a judge

  • This is done in writing (by affidavit) or in person (at a court hearing) the same day as the appointment
    • Appointments must begin by 12pm if clients wish to have a 3pm hearing
  • The judge signs an order granting or denying the PPO
  • If granted, the order will be in effect for 15 days

Step 2

Court Hearing on the Petition for a Protective Order

  • Whether the PPO was granted or denied, you will automatically have a court date within 15 days
  • The date and time of this hearing will be written at the top of the PPO
  • At the hearing it will be determined if a 2 year Protective Order is needed
When Does a Protective Order become Effective?

Even though a judge signs the Protective Order, it does not go into effect until it has been given to the person you are filing against. This is called serving or being served.

  • If the person is in Virginia and you give the court the person's correct home and work address, the Sheriff's Department will serve the person free of charge.  If the person is to be served outside of Virginia, if the person cannot be served in time to arrange to be at court, or if you want the person served right away, you will have to pay a private process server to do it. The person can be served at home or at work. However, you must have the right address for the person, otherwise, the person cannot be served and the protective order will not go into effect.
  • Keep the protective order with you at all times. If the person violates (does not obey) the protective order, call 911 and show the order to the police. The person can be arrested for not obeying the order. Remember that a protective order is only a piece of paper--it is not a bodyguard. If you are in danger, call 911.
  • You must return to court because a preliminary protective order is temporary and only good until a full protective order hearing is held.


The Supervised Visitation & Exchange Program provides a safe environment for visitation and the exchange of children for offsite visitation with a noncustodial parent.