How do I get my domestic violence order for protection enforced in another state?
Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your domestic violence order for protection enforced in another state.
Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid domestic violence order for protection is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1 Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.
Note: It is important to keep a copy of your domestic violence order for protection with you at all times. It may also be a good idea to know the rules of states you will be living in or visiting to ensure that your out-of-state order can be enforced in a timely manner.
1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)
Do I need anything special to get my domestic violence order for protection enforced in another state?
In some states, you will need a certified copy of your domestic violence order for protection. A certified copy from Washington will have a stamp on the first or last page that says “Certified Copy.” The last page will have a signature by the deputy clerk and a seal that you can feel is raised from the page.
To get a certified copy you can either go to the courthouse and request one or mail in a request.
Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You may also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move to leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. You may want to give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a picture of the abuser and give copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
Can I get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to get your domestic violence order for protection enforced in another state.
However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state where you move. A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your domestic violence order for protection, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.
To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, select your state from the Advocates and Shelters page for advocates or the Finding a Lawyer page for legal services.
Do I need to tell the court in Washington if I move?
If you won’t be getting mail at your old address, you may want to give the court a new address where your mail can be sent. The court that gave you your order for protection likely should have an up-to-date address for you at all times so that you can be notified in case the abuser asks the judge to change or dismiss the order.
If you provide your new address to the court staff, make sure they know that you want to keep it confidential. It should be kept in a confidential part of your file where the public will not have access to it. If you feel unsafe giving your new address, you may be able to use the address of a friend you trust or a P.O. box instead.