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Know the Laws: Washington

UPDATED August 10, 2017

Domestic Violence Orders for Protection (DVOP)

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

Who can get a domestic violence order for protection

back to topAm I eligible to file for a domestic violence order for protection?

If you are 16 or older, you are eligible to file for a domestic violence order for protection if you or your minor child have been the victim of domestic violence (as defined by law) at the hands of:

  • your spouse or former spouse;
  • your domestic partner or former domestic partner (including same-sex couples);
  • someone you have a child in common with - it doesn’t matter if you have ever lived together or been married;
  • adult persons related to you by blood or marriage;
  • adult persons residing with you now or who have resided with you in the past;
  • someone you are having or had a dating relationship with - it doesn't matter if you ever lived together or not; (Note: the abuser must be at least 16) or
  • someone who has a biological or legal parent-child relationship with you, including step-parents and step-children and grandparents and grandchildren.*

If you are between the ages of 13 and 16, you can file against any of the family or household members listed above.  However, to file against someone you have/had a dating relationship with, you must show that you  have been the "victim of violence in a dating relationship" and the abuser is at least 16 years old.**  If you do not meet these requirements, there may be another order that applies to your situation.  Go to our Civil Anti-Harassment Orders page, Sexual Assault Protection Orders and Stalking Protection Orders page for more information.

If someone other than one of these people is hurting you, there are other petitions that you may be eligible to file for protection against violence.  See What other types of orders may help me?

Note: If you are 16 or older, you can file for an order for protection on your own, without permission from an adult.  If you are under 16, you will need a parent, guardian, guardian ad litem or "next friend" to file for you.  A "next friend" is anyone over 18 years of age, chosen by the minor who is able to pursue the court case for the minor and state his/her wishes in court.***

* R.C.W. § 26.50.010(2)
** R.C.W. § 26.50.020(1)
*** R.C.W. § 26.50.020(8)

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back to topCan I get a domestic violence order for protection against a same-sex partner?

In Washington, you may apply for a domestic violence order for protection against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Am I eligible to file for a domestic violence order for protection?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Washington?

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back to topHow much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?

Nothing.  There is no filing fee for a domestic violence order for protection.

You do not need a lawyer to file for an order for protection.  However, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.  If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on the WA Finding a Lawyer page.  Domestic violence organizations in your area may also be able to help you through the legal process and may have lawyer referrals.*

* R.C.W. § 20.50.040

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back to topWhat other types of orders may help me?

Restraining Order
A restraining order is filed as part of a divorce case, a paternity case, or other family law case.  This is broader than a domestic violence protection order, since it can also deal with property issues, child support, or spousal support.  If you are concerned about preventing the abuser from getting rid of your assets during your separation, you might contact an attorney to see about getting a restraining order.*

No Contact Order
This order is intended to protect you if the abuser is in the process of a criminal case.  The judge will decide whether or not to issue this order when s/he decides if the abuser is to be released on bail or personal recognizance, or when the abuser is formally charged or being sentenced.  Generally this order does not last as long as an order of protection.  It does not award custody, establish visitation, or order counseling.**

You may also be able to file for a Sexual Assault Protection Order, Stalking Protection Order, or a Civil Anti-Harassment Order.

* R.C.W. § 7.40.020
** R.C.W. § 10.99.050

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