4 Steps to Obtaining a Restraining Order in Washington State
It’s difficult enough when a relationship deteriorates, but when someone who once claimed to love you is also hurting or threatening to hurt you, the fear can be overwhelming. What can you do to keep yourself and your children safe as you leave that person and seek custody?
In Washington state, there are different types of protective orders available, one of which is a restraining order. It is usually filed during an existing family law matter, such as a child custody dispute or pending divorce. Restraining orders are similar to Domestic Violence Protection orders because they are designed to protect you from harm and address temporary child custody, but they also cover wider issues such as:
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Property matters
You may apply for a restraining order in Washington State if you are married to the respondent or have a child with them. Below is a general overview of the steps involved in obtaining the order.
Make an Application to the Court
You will have to apply for a temporary order. During the application, you explain your situation and show how it meets the definition of domestic violence. If you are in danger, the court may grant an immediate (ex parte) restraining order on the day you make the request without notice to your ex.
Technically, you can complete and present an application yourself, as copies of the necessary paperwork can be downloaded online or picked up at your local courthouse. However, it may be in your best interests to work with a Washington family law attorney. This is a stressful and emotional time for you, and an attorney can make sure that your case is presented in a way that secures the protection you need.
The Court Issues a Temporary Order
If the court agrees that you have been subjected to domestic violence, it will issue a temporary order and schedule a hearing. Temporary orders last for 14 days or until the hearing, whichever is sooner. Law enforcement will serve a copy on your spouse or partner so they are aware of the hearing and can arrange to appear.
You Attend a Hearing
At the hearing, both sides have the right and opportunity to tell their side of the story to the court. The judge will then decide if a permanent restraining order is necessary. Your attorney can accompany you to the hearing and speak on your behalf so that anxiety doesn’t prevent you from presenting your case.
The Court Issues a Permanent Order
If the court agrees that you and your children need protection, they will issue an order that’s effective for at least one year. Most restraining orders will prevent the respondent from having any contact with you and possibly your children. Depending on the circumstances, the judge may also order:
- Domestic violence counseling for your ex
- Treatment for chemical dependency (if addiction was a contributing factor to their behavior)
- Mandatory parenting classes, even if they were not violent toward the children
- A prohibition on owning or possessing weapons
The court may also award you spousal support, exclusive use of the family home, and your legal fees (which your ex will have to pay).
If your ex violates the order, they can be charged with a gross misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000, up to a year in jail, or both. In some cases, they may be subjected to electronic monitoring. If they violate the order in a manner that constitutes assault or reckless endangerment or have at least two previous convictions for similar violations, it is a Class C felony that could send them to prison for up to five years and/or result in a $10,000 fine.
Contact a Seattle Restraining Order Attorney
When someone who is supposed to love you becomes controlling and violent, you deserve to be safe. At ZafiroLaw, attorney Katrina Zafiro will guide you through the steps involved in getting a restraining order that helps you feel hopeful about the future. To schedule a consultation with her today, call 206-547-9906.