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Know the Laws: District of Columbia

UPDATED April 14, 2016

Enforcing your out-of-state order in D.C.

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If you are planning to move to D.C. or are going to be in D.C. for any reason, your out-of-state protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in D.C.

back to topCan I get my protection order enforced in Washington, D.C.? What are the requirements?

Yes.  Your protection order can be enforced in Washington, D.C. as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.*
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.**

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
** 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a),(b)


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back to topCan I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in D.C.?

No.  Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order.  You cannot have this done by a court in D.C.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued.  You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living.  To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in Washington, D.C., you may be able to get a new one issued in D.C., but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Washington, D.C.  To find out more information on how to get a protection order in Washington, D.C., visit our Civil Protection Orders pages.


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back to topI was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in D.C.?

Yes.  As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,* D.C. can enforce a temporary custody order that is part of a protection order.  To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets these standards, contact a lawyer in your area.  To find a lawyer in your area, go to our D.C. Finding a Lawyer page.

* The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

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