En Español
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Know the Laws: Washington

UPDATED October 1, 2012

Domestic Violence Orders for Protection (DVOP)

Print this page
View All

A domestic violence order of protection is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family or household member.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic violence in Washington?

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":

  • physical harm
  • bodily injury
  • assault
  • sexual assault
  • stalking
  • making you fear immediate physical harm, bodily injury or assault.*

This definition includes many types of abusive behaviors, such as pushing, hitting, slapping, biting, choking, and other conduct that causes you harm or puts you in fear of being hurt.

* R.C.W. § 26.50.010(1)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat is a domestic violence order for protection?

A domestic violence order for protection (DVOP) 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 to both women and men victims.

The Washington courts publish additional information on domestic violence orders of protection.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat types of orders for protection are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of domestic violence orders for protection in WA:

Ex parte temporary order for protection.
An ex parte temporary order for protection is designed to protect you until the court hearing you must have for a final order for protection.  When you file your application for a temporary order for protection, the court 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 be present at this hearing, 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 a year (but you can apply to renew that part of the order at the end of the 1-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 WA, 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)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topHow can a domestic violence order for protection help me?

In a temporary, ex parte DVOP, the judge can order the following relief:

  • Order the abuser not commit acts of domestic violence against you;
  • Order the abuser to stay away from your residence, work, school or from the school or day care of your child;
  • Prohibit the abuser from coming within a certain distance from a specific location;
  • Ordering any party (you or the abuser) from interfering with the other's custody of the minor children or from removing the children from the jurisdiction of the court;
  • Order the abuser not to contact you or your children or members of the your household
  • Order the abuser not to use telephonic, audiovisual, or other electronic means to monitor the actions, location, or communication of you, your children, or members of your household;
  • Require the abuser to surrender his/her firearms if certain conditions are met.*

As part of a final DVOP, the judge can order the following relief:

  • Order the abuser not commit acts of domestic violence against you;
  • Order the abuser not to harass you, follow you, keep you under physical or electronic surveillance, or cyberstalk you;
  • Order the abuser not to use telephonic, audiovisual, or other electronic means to monitor the actions, location, or communication of you, your children, or members of your household;
  • Remove the abuser from the home that you share;
  • Order the abuser to stay away from your residence, work, school or from the school or day care of your child;
  • Prohibit the abuser from coming within a certain distance from a specific location;
  • Order the abuser not to contact you or your children or members of the your household;
  • Give one parent temporary custody of children;
  • Set a schedule for visitation with minor children;
  • Grant you possession of essential personal items including pets; (Note: You can get sole custody or control of any pet owned by you, the respondent, or your child.  The abuser can also be prohibited from coming within a specific distance or to specific locations where the pet is regularly found); 
  • Grant you use of a vehicle;
  • Order the abuser to pay administrative court costs and service fees, and to reimburse you for costs incurred in bringing the action (such as reasonable attorney's fees);
  • Order the abuser to participate in a batterers' treatment program;
  • Require the respondent submit to electronic monitoring;
  • Require the abuser to surrender his/her firearms;
  • Order any other relief that the judge believes is necessary for your protection and the protection of your family or household members.**

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

Note: A DVOP cannot:

  • order child support;
  • order maintenance (alimony);
  • assign most property to either party; or
  • establish permanent child custody.

* R.C.W.  § 26.50.070(1)
** R.C.W. § 26.50.060(1)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIn which county can I file for a domestic violence order for protection?

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)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to top