Can the abuser file a motion to change or terminate my order for protection?
Yes. If the abuser files a motion to modify or terminate a domestic violence order for protection that is permanent or that lasts for more than two years, s/he must include facts and circumstances explaining the request for changing or ending the order in what is called a “declaration.” You must be personally served with the respondent’s motion and declaration at least 5 days before the hearing. You will then have the option to file a response, known as an “opposing declaration.” The judge will read both declarations and decide (based on what s/he reads) if there is “adequate cause” (enough of a reason) to schedule a hearing. If the judge decides that there is adequate cause, the judge will hold a hearing during which both sides will present evidence and testimony and the judge will decide if s/he is going to modify or terminate the order in the way the abuser requested. If the judge decides there is no adequate cause, the judge will dismiss the respondent’s motion and will deny his/her request.1
If the motion that the respondent filed was to modify the order, s/he has to prove that the changes are necessary and justified. If the abuser is asking to modify the order by making it shorter, or taking away a part of the order that tells him/her to not harass, stalk, threaten, or commit other acts of domestic violence against you or anyone protected by the order, the judge has to consider the factors listed in What factors will a judge consider when deciding whether or not to terminate my permanent or long-term order for protection? when deciding.2
If the motion that the respondent filed was to terminate the order and the judge schedules a hearing, the respondent must prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the order was issued, which makes it unlikely that the respondent would commit future acts of domestic violence against you or anyone else protected in the order.
It is important to know that for either a request to modify or terminate, you do not have to prove that you have a current, reasonable fear of immediate harm by the respondent to keep the order.3 For more information, see What factors will a judge consider when deciding whether or not to terminate my permanent or long-term order for protection?
1 R.C.W. § 26.50.130 (2),(7)
2 R.C.W. § 26.50.130(4)
3 R.C.W. § 26.50.130(3)(a),(4)