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Legal Information: Washington

Restraining Orders

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December 3, 2020

Against whom can I file? What if the abuser doesn’t live in Washington?

You do not have to have any specific type of relationship with the abuser to file for a civil anti-harassment order1 as long as the person has committed the type of harassment described in What is the legal definition of harassment?  For example, the abuser may or may not be related or married to you; s/he could be a significant other, neighbor, co-worker, or relative.

If the abuser does not live in Washington, you may file for a civil anti-harassment order and the court can have jurisdiction (power) over that person if one of the following things are true:

  1. The abuser is personally served with the petition in Washington state;
  2. The abuser agrees to the Washington court having jurisdiction (power) over him/her;
  3. The acts of harassment took place in Washington (this includes when oral or written statements are made by an abuser outside Washington to a person in Washington, like sending mail or email);
  4. The harassment did not take place in Washington but it is part of an ongoing pattern of harassment that has a harmful effect on you or a member of your family or household and you live in Washington;
  5. Due to the harassment, you or a member of your family or household has fled to Washington to find safety or protection and currently lives in Washington; or
  6. Some other legal basis exists that gives a judge in Washington power over the case.2  For example, if the respondent runs a business in Washington or has significant connections to Washington, the judge may have power to issue an order.3  If you have questions about where to file in your specific situation, you may want to speak to a lawyer in Washington.

Note: If your situation falls under number 4 or 5 above, the abuser must have communicated with you or a member of your family either directly or indirectly, or threatened your safety or the safety of a member of your family while you or your family member lived in Washington.  The communication could be through the mail, the telephone, a posting online, or electronically such as through email.4

1 See R.C.W. § 10.14.080
2 R.C.W. § 10.14.155
3 See R.C.W. § 4.28.185
4 R.C.W. § 10.14.155(2)

Can I file for a civil anti-harassment order for my minor child against an abuser who is a minor?

Maybe. A parent or guardian of a minor child (under 18) may file a petition for a civil anti-harassment order against a minor abuser (under 18) in superior court only in cases where the abuser has been to court for a crime against the victim or is/was under investigation for a crime.

When determining whether to issue a civil anti-harassment order against a minor, the judge will consider:

  • the facts of the case;
  • how serious the alleged offense is;
  • any continuing physical danger or emotional distress (harm) to the victim; and
  • the expense, difficulty, and educational disruption that would be caused by a transfer of the abuser to another school.

The court may order that the abuser not attend the public or approved private school attended by the victim. If the court does order a transfer of the abuser, the parents or legal guardians of the abuser are responsible for the costs, including transportation, associated with the change in school. The court will notify both the school the abuser will attend and the school the victim attends about this part of the order.1

1 R.C.W. § 10.14.040(7)