Who Can Be Protected
If you or your children are the victims of physical or sexual abuse, or threatened abuse, you can be protected under the Domestic Violence Protection Order Act. This applies if you are related to the abuser as a family member, were married, have ever lived together, have a child together, or have an established dating relationship and are 16 years of age or older.
Where You Can Go for Help
Go to the nearest district court or to the Snohomish County Superior Court webpage for application forms. If you choose to go to the superior court, go directly to the Protection Order Assistance Program Office, Room C-125, in the Snohomish County Courthouse.
Filing an Order for Protection
You will fill out forms that ask (petition) the court for a Temporary Order for Protection. In the forms the victim is called the petitioner, and the alleged abuser is called the respondent. The forms ask for such information as a description of the abuse, the respondent's date of birth, and a place to serve the respondent with the legal papers. The judge / commissioner will review your completed forms, may ask you some questions, and will make a decision based on the information provided.
The Protection Order Assistant staff will file the approved papers, give you a copy, and arrange to have the respondent served his/her copy. As this process may take from two to six hours, it is in the bet interest of small children to arrange for childcare during this time. The forms are free and there are no filing or service fees for domestic violence protection orders within the State of Washington.
What the Order Can & Cannot Do
An Order for Protection can restrain the respondent from:
- Causing you or your minor children physical or sexual harm
- Molesting, harassing, threatening, or stalking you or your children
- Interfering with your custody / care of minor children
- Removing your children from the State of Washington
- Provide protection for your pet(s)
An Order for Protection may also remove the respondent from the family home and order him/her to pay the fees for obtaining the order.
An Order for Protection cannot:
- Establish or order payment of child support
- Legally assign property to either party
- Establish permanent child custody
- Grant permanent use of the family home
These issues must be decided in separate court actions.
Importance of the Protection Order
The importance of the Order for Protection is that it lets the respondent and the police know that you are serious in your determination to be safe. Violation of an order is a crime. If the respondent threatens or harms you, or comes to a place the court has ordered him or her to stay away from, call the police at 911.
Issuance of the Order
A Temporary Order for Protection can be issued immediately and give you protection until a Full Order hearing, approximately two weeks later. Under certain conditions your Temporary Protection Order may be transferred from district court to superior court for the Protection Order hearing. You may change or end a Temporary or Permanent Protection if you go back to court.
Until a judge or commissioner modifies (changes) or terminates (ends) your order, it will be enforced by the police as it is. An Order for Protection may be issued (for up to one year or longer) at a court hearing, after the respondent has been served legal papers. This allows him/her to be present at the hearing.