All relationships have their ups and downs. However, if a disagreement with your spouse, dating partner, or roommate has turned violent or caused you to fear for your safety, it’s essential that you recognize your legal options. Experiencing violence or harm at the hands of a loved one can be devastating and isolating, and it can be hard to know where you can go for protection. Washington state allows victims of domestic violence to seek and obtain a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) that prevents abusers from contacting them. If the abuser violates any of the terms set forth in the DVPO, they could face serious consequences. If you have experienced domestic violence and are looking for help, consider contacting a compassionate and understanding Seattle family law attorney to discuss your situation. Your attorney will listen carefully to your concerns and help you take the necessary steps to ensure your safety.
Domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs) are intended to protect vulnerable individuals who are suffering abuse by someone close to them, such as a dating partner or family member. If the abuser is a former or current dating partner, spouse, cohabitant, or co-parent, you may seek a DVPO against them. You may also pursue a DVPO against a stepparent, blood relative, parent, child, roommate, or in-law. To move forward with your DVPO petition, you must be experiencing domestic violence as defined by Washington state law: “Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, sexual assault, or stalking…of one partner by another intimate partner…[or] by one family or household member against another family or household member.” In such instances, you have the option to file a DVPO petition to stop the abuser from contacting you or subjecting you to further harm.
Although DVPOs are designed to protect vulnerable individuals from harm, the process for obtaining a DVPO may seem somewhat intimidating or confusing. Below are some steps you can expect to take when seeking a DVPO in the Seattle area.
First, you will need to locate the required forms. You can acquire hard copies of the forms at the Clerk’s Office of any District or Superior Court in King County or the Protection Order Advocacy Program in both Superior Courts in King County. Or, you may go online to locate the forms. Locate and complete the Petition for Protection Order, which will ask you to provide specific information, such as the names of those seeking protection (i.e., you, your children, etc.), the kinds of protections you are seeking, and why you believe you need protection. You will be asked to provide details that describe the domestic violence you experienced, and you may provide evidence to support your allegations of abuse. For instance, you may include police reports, medical records, transcripts of threatening texts or emails, or witness statements as evidence to support your account of the domestic violence.
You can file your completed forms with the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk will issue a case number. If the court determines that temporary protection is necessary before the scheduled hearing, it may issue a Temporary Protection Order that prevents the respondent from contacting you or engaging in certain behaviors until the matter can be brought before the court. Once the court issues the Temporary Protection Order, it will notify law enforcement, who will then serve a copy of the Petition and the Temporary Order on the respondent. Temporary Protection Orders typically last for two weeks.
Approximately two weeks after the Temporary Order was signed, the court will hold a hearing to establish whether to issue the DVPO for one year or longer. You will have the opportunity to tell the court about the acts of domestic abuse you endured at the hands of the respondent. The court will determine whether to grant your request for a full protection order. If so, you may take the order to the Clerk’s Office to file the original and obtain certified copies.
While securing the DVPO may be the end of the abusive behavior for some petitioners, there are times in which an abuser may violate the terms of the DVPO. If the respondent violates the terms in any way, contact law enforcement right away. The abuser may face significant penalties for violating the terms of the DVPO. Further, a DVPO can be extended if the court finds the respondent is still a threat to the petitioner.
No one deserves to feel unsafe in a relationship. If you need help shielding yourself or your children from acts of domestic violence, reach out to a trusted and compassionate family law attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will support you at every step of the process, providing you with the reassurance and comfort you need to move toward a brighter and more stable future.
Call the Hemmat Law Group today at (206) 682-5200 to speak with a dedicated and caring Seattle family law attorney.
The Hemmat Law Group (HLG) was founded in 1994 by Steven Amir Hemmat, a former DOJ Trial Attorney. We specialize in family law, supporting victims of the legal system.
Hemmat Law Group help good people in bad situations.
Our lawyers provide expert legal advice connected to protection orders, including in cases of domestic violence, stalking and neighbor disputes. Contact us today.