The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) created several new changes in the area of domestic violence law.  For example, it implemented a national domestic violence hotline, and provided for several grant programs aimed at preventing violence against women.  It also provided for confidentiality for new address changes as well.

In particular, the VAWA is mostly known for its effect in the area of immigration law, as it allows battered spouses to apply for permanent residence in the U.S.  Finally, the Act made major changes in the area of restraining orders and protection orders.

How Does the Act Affect the Injured Party’s Ability to Travel Across State Lines?

Before VAWA, a protection order issued in one state was not always upheld in a different jurisdiction.  That is, the injured party sometimes had to obtain a new order or register their current protection order whenever they traveled across state lines.

Under VAWA, protection orders issued through criminal or civil cases are now given full faith and credit.  This means that such orders are fully enforceable, even in other jurisdictions.  However, under certain conditions Alaska, Montana, and Pennsylvania still require out-of-state orders to be filed with the state.

Thus, a person convicted of domestic violence may not:

  • Follow the victim across state lines into another state for the purposes of violating a protection order
  • Travel to another state for the purposes of committing domestic violence against a spouse or ex-spouse
  • Force the victim to relocate to another state

These new changes can be of great assistance to victims of domestic violence, who may already be under conditions of stress or anxiety when traveling interstate.  

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Protection Order?

Protection or restraining orders can sometimes be confusing to understand.  If you need assistance with a court order, or with a domestic abuse claim, you may wish to contact a family lawyer in your area.  An attorney may especially needed if you are planning to travel or relocate to a different state.  Your family lawyer will be able to advise you on your rights when it comes to interstate travel after a domestic violence hearing.  State laws can still vary, so be sure to ask if you have any questions regarding local or state laws.