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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order During a Virginia Divorce


The term “protective order” is typically thought of as the means to prevent a stalker or other threatening person from harassing you. However, in divorce proceedings (and other legal matters), protective orders are issued for a number of reasons. Despite the connotation, protective orders are designed to prevent someone from carrying out any specific action. Sometimes protective orders are put in place to deter physical contact, but they are also issued to handle financial mismanagement, child custody issues, and other important legal matters.

Temporary Financial Restraining Orders in Virginia

Sharing financial assets during a divorce can be problematic. Many states, such as California, have developed a system to deal with this challenge: the automatic temporary restraining order (ATRO). An automatic temporary restraining order is issued at the outset of any divorce proceeding filed in those states, requiring both spouses to maintain the “financial status quo” until the divorce is final. This prevents either spouse from trying to move, hide, or dissipate a large amount of marital property.

Temporary financial restraining orders are not automatically issued in Virginia. You can request a temporary order against dissipation at the outset of your divorce proceedings, or at any point it becomes necessary. Keep in mind a temporary orders will apply to you, as well. If your spouse has threatened to drain your accounts, or you have reason to suspect he or she might make some unfair financial moves, talk to your attorney about requesting a financial order in your case.

Obtaining a Protective Order in Virginia

Protective orders are intended to protect an individual from harm and abuse. In Virginia divorce cases, protective orders are commonly used to protect victims of spousal abuse and domestic violence. There are three types of protective orders issued in “family abuse” cases in Virginia:

  • Emergency (ex parte) orders: An emergency protective order can be obtained at any time of day and will last for three days. It is intended to give the victim enough time to secure a longer-lasting temporary restraining order.
  • Preliminary orders: A preliminary protective order typically lasts 15 days, but can be extended up to six months if the alleged abuser is incarcerated or otherwise cannot be served.
  • Permanent orders: Despite what the name suggests, permanent protective orders are not life-long. They can last for up to two years, at which point a renewal can be requested.

In a Virginia divorce case, a protective order will set up the lines of acceptable communication to maintain the victim’s safety. A protective order may completely prohibit your spouse from contacting you, except through his or her attorney. While this can complicate divorce proceedings, spouses with a protective order in place can still work together (through their attorneys) to reach a fair settlement without the need for litigation.

Get Help Today

If you are a victim of spousal abuse considering divorce, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Serving all of northern Virginia and beyond, the compassionate attorneys at Whitbeck, Cisneros, McElroy P.C. can help protect your rights and interests during this challenging time. Contact our office in Leesburg, Virginia to get the help you need today.



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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!