Legal Information: Washington


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December 3, 2020

Is there anything I can do if my abusive partner continually files court proceedings against me?

Washington law recognizes that abusers often misuse court proceedings in order to control, harass, intimidate, coerce, and/or impoverish the abused partner.1 If you are the victim of “abusive litigation” by your current or former intimate partner, and the court has already determined that the abuser has committed domestic violence against you, you can ask the judge to issue an order restricting abusive litigation. To make this request, you could do any of the following:

  • include it in the written answer that you file in response to a case;
  • file a motion in an ongoing case; or
  • file a motion at any point within five years after you got an order for protection against the abuser, even if it is expired.2

If, after a hearing, the judge believes that the litigation is abusive, the judge can dismiss any current motions or petitions and enter an order restricting future abusive litigation.3 The order will:

  • make the abuser pay all costs of any abusive civil actions pending in the court;
  • make the abuser pay you reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of responding to the abusive litigation, including the cost of seeking the order restricting abusive litigation; and
  • put restrictions in place against the abuser that would prevent any additional court filings for the next four to six years without first getting approval to file from a judge.4

1 R.C.W. § 26.51.010
2 R.C.W. § 26.51.030(1)
3 R.C.W. § 26.51.060(1), (2)
4 R.C.W. § 26.51.060(1), (2), (3)(a)

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