Know the Laws: Washington
UPDATED December 5, 2016
A domestic violence order of protection is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family or household member.
This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a domestic violence order for protection.
Domestic violence is when one or more of the following things occur between family or household members:
A domestic violence order for protection is a paper which is signed by a judge and tells the abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences. It offers civil legal protection from domestic violence, regardless of gender.
The Washington courts publish additional information on domestic violence orders of protection.
There are two types of domestic violence orders for protection in Washington:
Ex parte temporary order for protection.
An ex parte temporary order for protection is designed to protect you until the court hearing for a final order for protection. When you file your application for a temporary order for protection, the judge will hold a hearing either in person or by telephone where you will tell the judge why you need the order for protection. (The abuser will not have notice of this hearing or be present, which is what is meant by the term “ex parte.”) The hearing will be either on the day the petition is filed or the following day that court is in session.* A judge will grant the temporary order only if s/he believes that you are in immediate danger of a severe injury.*1
Temporary orders last for a fixed period of up to 14 days. If the court permits service of the abuser by publication or mail, the order will last for a fixed period up to 24 days.*2
Your ex parte temporary order should clearly state the expiration date.*3
Final order for protection.
A final order for protection can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story, present evidence, witnesses, etc. The hearing will be no more than 14 days from the date you got your temporary order or no more than 24 days if the abuser was notified by publication or mail.*2
Generally, the order for protection can be for a fixed period (specific amount of time) or permanent (forever). If it only lasts for a fixed period, you can ask to have it renewed.*4
Note: If the judge included in the order that the abuser cannot contact his/her minor children, then that part of the order for protection can only last up to one year (but you can apply to renew that part of the order at the end of the one-year period).*4 To get more information about renewing your order, please see How do I change or extend my order for protection?
For information on other types of orders available in Washington, see What other types of orders may help me?
* R.C.W. § 26.50.070(3)
*1 R.C.W. § 26.50.070(1)
*2 R.C.W. § 26.50.070(4)
*3 R.C.W. § 26.50.070(5)
*4 R.C.W. § 26.50.060(2), (3)
In a temporary, ex parte domestic violence order of protection, the judge can order the following relief:
As part of a final domestic violence order of protection, the judge can order the following relief:
Whether or not a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.
Note: A domestic violence protection order cannot:
* R.C.W. § 26.50.070(1)
** R.C.W. § 26.50.060(1)
*** Washington Courts website
You can file a petition in the county or municipality where you live. If you’ve moved to avoid further abuse, you can file the petition in the county or municipality where you lived previously, or in the county or municipality where you’re currently staying.* However, if you are trying to keep your address confidential, filing in the county where you have fled to would likely not be a good idea since it would alert the abuser to the fact that you are living in that county.
* R.C.W. § 26.50.020(6)