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Know the Laws: Washington

UPDATED August 10, 2017

Enforcing your Out-Of-State Order in Washington

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If you are planning to move to Washington or are going to be in Washington for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in Washington

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

Yes.  Your protection order can be enforced in Washington 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 Washington?

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 Washington.

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, you may be able to get a new one issued in Washington but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Washington.  To find out more information on how to get a domestic violence order for protection in Washington, visit our Restraining Orders page.

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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 Washington?

Yes.  As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,* Washington can enforce a temporary custody order that is a 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 WA 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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Registering your out-of-state order in Washington

back to topWhat is the National Crime Information Center Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database that contains protection orders used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.  It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.  All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.*

* See the FBI website

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back to topHow do I register my protection order in Washington?

To register/file your protection order in Washington state, you must bring a certified copy of your protection order to a Washington court in the county in which you live or to a county court where you believe you may have to enforce the order.*  There is no fee to file an out-of-state protection order.**   The clerk will give you a form to fill out in which you need to include:

  1. The name of the person entitled to protection (you) and any other protected parties (such as your children);
  2. The name and address of the abuser;
  3. The date the protection order was entered;
  4. The date the protection order expires;
  5. The relief granted in the order (i.e., what the order gives to you and what it prevents the abuser from doing);
  6. The judicial district and contact information for court administration for the court in which the foreign protection order was entered;
  7. The Social Security number, date of birth, and description of the abuser;
  8. Whether or not the abuser is believed to be armed and dangerous;
  9. Whether or not the abuser was served with the order, and if so, the method used to serve the order; and
  10. The type and location of any other legal proceedings between the you and the abuser.***

Note: If you don't have some of the information listed above, you can still register/file your order in court (and later enforce your order).***  Also, the information form should be kept confidential.****

If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Washington for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area on our WA State and Local Programs page.

* R.C.W. § 26.52.030(1)
** R.C.W. § 26.52.030(3)
*** R.C.W. § 26.52.030(5)
**** See the “Foreign Protection Order Information” form, which states: “Confidential” and “Do Not Show or Serve this form to the restrained person” and “Do not file in the court file”.

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back to topDo I have to register my protection order in Washington in order to get it enforced?

No.  Neither federal law nor Washington state law* requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced.  (However, if your order is not entered into the registry, it may be more difficult for a Washington law enforcement official to determine whether your order is real, and it could take longer to get your order enforced.) 

Washington state law says that if you show an order of protection from another state to a police officer for enforcement, the law enforcement officer must enforce it if it appears to be a valid order.  The out-of-state protection order is valid if the court that gave it to you had the legal authority (power) to do so and it has not expired, or been changed/dismissed by the court.  Also, the abuser must have been told about the hearing for the protection order and been given an opportunity to be present at the hearing (even if s/he never showed up at the hearing).**

* R.C.W. § 26.52.030(2)
** R.C.W. § 26.52.020


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back to topWill the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.*  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Staying Safe page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan.  You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our WA State and Local Programs page.

* 18 USC § 2265(d)

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back to topDoes it cost anything to register my protection order?

No.  There is no fee for registering your protection order in Washington.*

* R.C.W. § 26.52.030(3)

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