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Legal Information: Washington

Restraining Orders

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December 3, 2020

How much will it cost to file for a civil anti-harassment order?

There could be a filing fee and a service fee when filing a petition for a civil anti-harassment order, depending on who you are filing against.1 If you are seeking an order against an abuser who has stalked you, committed a sex offense against you, or who is a family or household member and committed domestic violence against you, you should file for a domestic violence order of protection or a sexual assault protection order and cannot be charged a fee for filing or serving the order on the abuser.2 If you are filing against anyone else, you can be charged the fee.

If you cannot afford the filing and service fees, you may file an application to proceed “in forma pauperis” which allows you to ask the judge to waive the fee. If the judge decides you cannot pay, you will be allowed to proceed “in forma pauperis” and you will not have to pay the filing fee or other related court costs.3

You may still have to pay the cost of having the abuser served with the court papers for a civil anti-harassment order.

Note: The judge may require the abuser to pay the filing fee and court costs, including service fees, and to reimburse you for your costs in the case, including reasonable attorney’s fees.4

1 R.C.W. § 36.18.020(2)(d)
2 R.C.W. § 10.14.055
3 R.C.W. § 10.14.060
4 R.C.W. § 10.14.090(2)

Do I need a lawyer to file for a civil anti-harassment order?

No, you do not need a lawyer to file for a civil anti-harassment order.1  However, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer and/or if your case is going to go to trial.  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 may be able to find information on legal assistance on the WA Finding a Lawyer page.

Note: The judge may order the abuser to reimburse you for the costs of filing the civil anti-harassment order, including reasonable attorney’s fees.2

1 R.C.W. § 10.14.090(1)
2 R.C.W. § 10.14.090(2)

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

What are the steps involved with getting a civil anti-harassment order?

The steps for getting an anti-harassment order are similar to the steps involved with obtaining an order for protection.  You can file for an anti-harassment order with the clerk at the district courthouse or in some towns, the municipal court.  (Note: If the abuser is a minor, the case would be transferred to superior court.)1  The instructions may be similar to the order for protection petition, but you will fill out a different set of forms.

You may file in the district court in the judicial district of the county or in the municipality where:

  • The unlawful harassment occurred; or
  • Where the abuser resides at the time you file the petition.2

1 R.C.W. § 10.14.150
2 R.C.W. § 10.14.160

How can I modify (change) or renew my civil anti-harassment order?

To modify (change) your civil anti-harassment order, you will need to apply for a modification in court, and the abuser will have to be notified and have a chance to state his/her position to either object or consent to the modification. The court will have a hearing and may modify the terms of an existing order.1

To renew your civil anti-harassment order, you will need to file a petition for renewal within the three months before the expiration of the order. The petition should state the reasons why you wish to renew the anti-harassment order. The court will order a hearing no more than 14 days from the date it received the petition for renewal. The abuser must be notified at least five days before the hearing. The judge will grant the petition for renewal unless the abuser can prove that s/he will not start to harass you again when the order expires. The judge may renew the civil anti-harassment order for another fixed time period or may enter a permanent order.2

1 R.C.W. § 10.14.180
2 R.C.W. § 10.14.080(5)