Domestic violence is a term applied to a range of violent, controlling
or coercive behaviors occurring in certain personal relationships. Domestic
violence can occur between spouses, intimate or domestic partners, parents
of a common child, blood-related family members, couples who are dating,
roommates, parents and children, or step-parents and step-children.
Domestic violence is not limited to physical violence; stalking, threatening,
or controlling behaviors are also considered to be acts of domestic violence.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you have the right to obtain
a civil protection order that will restrain your abuser from committing
further abuse against you. You may
seek a civil protection order even if you are already involved in litigation, such as a divorce or parentage
action, with the abuser.
What Is a Domestic Violence Protection Order (or DVPO)?
DVPOs can provide for a wide range of protective measures. For example,
a DVPO will bar your abuser from contacting you in any way, and from entering
or going near your home or workplace. If you share a child with the abuser,
the court can also award you temporary custody of the child and bar the
abuser from having unsupervised, or any, contact with that child.
How Do I Obtain a DVPO?
In King County, a domestic violence protection order can be obtained in
superior court. Both courts have
domestic violence advocates on staff and available to assist domestic violence victims in obtaining
both temporary and full orders for protection.
Washington has developed
mandatory forms that must be used to obtain either a temporary or a full domestic violence
protection order. These forms are available online or from the domestic
violence advocates' office.
In order to obtain a DVPO you must complete the following forms:
Petition for Order for Protection: In this form, you must provide the court with information about the nature
of your relationship with the abuser, the identity of the abuser and the
victim, and the types of restraints you wish to be imposed against the
abuser. You must also describe the specific acts of domestic violence
committed by the abuser.
Child Custody Information Sheet: If you have a child with the abuser and are asking the court to grant
you temporary custody of the child, you must complete the child custody
Law Enforcement Information Sheet: This form will be forwarded to law enforcement for entry into their database.
This will permit the sheriff and police to enforce DVPOs and arrest abusers
who violate them. It also assists law enforcement agencies with serving
the DVPO on the abuser.
Confidential Information Form: This form is required so that the court can input your case into the
court's database. It requires you to disclose identifying information
about yourself, your children (if any), and the opposing party.
Proposed Temporary and Full Orders for Protection: You must submit a proposed temporary and full order for protection to
the court. This order must set forth all of the specific restraints and
other protective measures that you want the court to impose.
What If I Am in Immediate Danger?
If you are in need of immediate protection from abuse, you may obtain a
temporary order for protection from the
Superior Court's ex parte department, or the District Court's Domestic Violence court, which is located
at the Regional Justice Center in Kent. A temporary DVPO may be obtained
without providing any notice to the abuser, and without the court hearing
any evidence from him or her.
What Happens Next?
If you obtain a temporary order for protection, the court will set a hearing
on a full order, usually for 14 days after the temporary order is issued.
This hearing is commonly referred to as a "return hearing."
At that hearing, the court will determine whether a full order should
be entered. Full orders are commonly issued for one year, and may be re-issued
each year if there is still a risk of domestic violence to the victim.
After the temporary order has been issued, the clerk's office will
provide you certified copies that you should keep with you at all times,
as well as provide to your employer, your child's day care or school
administrative office, and any other person or agency that should be aware
of the order.
You must also arrange for the order to be served on the respondent. Local
law enforcement, such as the police office in the abuser's city, or
the King County Sheriff, will serve the documents for no charge.
Once the respondent has been served, he or she will be arrested and charged
with a crime if he or she violates the order in any way.
Domestic violence is a very serious family problem and has wide-ranging
implications on other family law matters such as a divorce or child custody.
An experienced King County attorney can advise you not only on your options
for protection from further domestic violence, but also on your options
for legally ending your relationship with the abuser.