You humbly drove your Toyota Corolla away from your tidy home in the suburbs, rejected and dejected. Your wife went from that sad separation to her divorce attorney and filed a protective order against you. You must stay away. But when you left the night was fast approaching, the weather howling, and you had only your North Face jacket, Tommy Hilfiger shirt, your Levi’s 501 jeans, and your Adidas sneaks on. You need all your personal possessions back!
Protective Orders in Virginia
Virginia protective orders come in three varieties:
- Emergency Protective Order (expires at the end of the third day following its issue, or the next day the Virginia court is in session, whichever is later)
- Preliminary Protective Order (lasts up to 15 days or a full hearing)
- Protective Order (lasts up to two years)
If you have a protective order filed against you, law enforcement is required under Virginia law to notify you, and the order itself will give an expiry date and time. One option for retrieving your belongings from your wife’s domicile is to wait for the protective order to expire and then recover them. Most Virginia men cannot wait.
Getting Your Possessions While a PO is in Place
Your dearly beloved possessions could be scattered throughout the house, an address you are not allowed to visit under the protective order. Say you have a few things you really, really need:
- Your iPhone
- Your PlayStation
- Life-saving Lipitor
You cannot return to the house and reclaim your things, even if your wife is not home. The order prevents you from being near her, and since a reasonable person could expect your wife to be at her home, you cannot go to her home (yes, we know it was once your home, too).
Showing up at the house you once occupied, you will be in violation of the protective order, which is a court order, not some flimsy piece of paper. It is backed by the full weight of Virginia law enforcement. Your wife can call the police; you are subject to arrest.
Instead, to get your important personal property back, including that Rubik’s Cube and your Star Wars figurine collection, go to your family law attorney.
Getting a Police Escort
Your attorney can request a police escort to your wife’s address for the express purpose of allowing you to retrieve your things (that vinyl LP of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, that hardbound set of Harry Potter novels …)
The problems with police intervention are manifold:
- They will often do it only when convenient and can back out in a flash if an emergency arises
- They will enforce a strict time limit (15 minutes, 30 minutes)
- They may promise to appear at a particular time and then fail to appear at all
Though worth a try, a police escort may not be practical.
Making a List
Make a list of the personal items you have in the house. Divide it between everything you want and everything you need. The “Need” list is the priority. You cannot function without these items; your life may depend on them; your business cannot operate without them.
Second is the list of what you want. Here you are thinking about remaining clothes, shoes, tools, seasonal items, and sentimental possessions. Once the communication pipeline is open between your wife and your legal representative, these items may be sorted out through a property division agreement.
Can Your Wife Sell or Dispose of Your Things?
Your wife cannot legally dispose of any of your possessions. Though, realistically, she may be willing to suffer a fine or other punishment for the sheer joy she feels in telling you she sold all your Mario Brothers games online for $1.
Your attorney can perform a useful service to you and your wife by reminding her of her legal obligation to safeguard your possessions. Your attorney can also contact your wife directly to see if an intermediary can retrieve the items:
- Your friend
- A member of your extended family
- Someone hired by your attorney’s law firm
Your attorney can also ask a Virginia court to arrange for the transfer of your possessions (all of them, needs and wants together) from your wife’s house in order to fulfill the protective order. The court issuing the protective order is the same court in which to seek relief (get your possessions back).
To protect and defend your rights as a Virginia man, contact us at The Firm For Men. You may also telephone our office in Virginia Beach at 757-383-9184. We specialize in zealously safeguarding your rights, helping you preserve your capital, your possessions, and your dignity. Are you wondering where we got our examples of personal possessions? They are the most popular items sold in history, according to Benzinga. You see, despite appearances, nothing is ever casual, random, or coincidental in a law firm such as ours.