What is a Protection Order? A Protection Order is a type of "restraining order" that you, (the petitioner), can file against another person, (the respondent), if you believe you have been a victim of domestic violence by the other person. Because it is a civil order, you can file this type of order even if the police have never been called or there has never been a domestic violence conviction.
The Protection Order Advocacy Program (POAP) has two locations:
King County Courthouse
516 Third Avenue, Room C213
Seattle, Washington 98104-2312
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center (Kent /South King County)
401 Fourth Avenue, Room 2B
Kent, Washington 98032-4429
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
For more information, visit our Protection Order website.
Photo by Jose Loya, courtesy of Creative Commons.
About Protection Orders
- Restrain a respondent from committing acts of domestic violence
- Exclude a respondent from the petitioner's residence shared by the petitioner and the respondent
- Prohibit the respondent from harassing and or contacting the petitioner (directly, indirectly, by mail, by telephone, e-mail, at school, at work or home)
- Award temporary custody of minor children, establish temporary visitation, if appropriate, and restrain the other parent from interfering with custody
- Order the respondent to participate in treatment or counseling
- Prohibit the respondent from removing the children from the jurisdiction of the court
- Order the respondent to pay for the costs incurred in obtaining the order
An Order for Protection Cannot:
- Guarantee safety
- Order child support
- Order maintenance income
- Make ultimate decisions about ownership of property or shared home
- Establish permanent child custody
No. They are two different kinds of orders entered for different reasons. They may contain similar restraints.
For example, a No Contact Order (NCO) is a criminal order and can only be entered if the abusive party is being charged with a criminal domestic violence offense or if it is a part of the sentencing for a criminal domestic violence offense. No Contact Orders are usually in place for the duration of the case and as long as the court has jurisdiction over the case after sentencing. While you may be able to have input into whether a No Contact Order is issued on your behalf, the ultimate decision to enter the order is up to the judge or commissioner hearing the case.
A Protection Order is an order that you file on your own behalf and present to the court - regardless of whether there are criminal charges or not.
There are six different types of orders that are designed to provide legal protection under a variety of circumstances. Each order has specific eligibility criteria you must meet to legally file the order.
- Order for Protection from Domestic Violence (Protection Order)
- No Contact Order
- Order for Protection from Unlawful Harassment (Anti-Harassment Order)
- Restraining Order
- Sexual Assault Protection Order
- Vulnerable Adult Protection Order
The temporary order will be in place for 14 days but can be continued for longer periods of time if necessary (for example, if the respondent does not get served and you need to extend the order to allow more time for service).
The full order is typically entered for one year but can be in place longer if you petition for a longer order AND there are facts that support having an order for longer than one year. The order can only be in place in one year increments if you have minor children in common.
You also have the right to renew a protection order if you have ongoing concerns about the respondent committing acts of domestic violence. You must file for the renewal within three months of the orders expiration.
You should always have a certified copy of your order on your person at all times. It is also important to provide a copy to your work, school, landlord (if applicable), and the school or daycare of your children.
For many people, it is helpful to let neighbors know there is an order in place so they can be on alert and call 911 in the event of a violation or if they see the respondent around your home.
Unfortunately, filing a protection order DOES NOT guarantee your safety. It is just one of many tools you can employ to try to increase your safety. It is very important to be aware that protection orders do not work in every case and may in fact escalate the level of danger in some cases.
To gain a better understanding of your relative risk, contact a local domestic violence agency hotline. You can access one:
through the 24-hour Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-562-6025,
through the 24-hour Crisis Line 206-461-3222,
by calling 211, or
by contacting the Protection Order Advocacy Program.
Not every abuser responds to being served with a Protection Order the same way.
Please consider these questions when thinking about your safety plan and when filing for an order.
How do you think the respondent will react to being served the order? Do you feel like you will be in more danger if you file the order or that things will get worse?
Is the respondent afraid of getting in trouble with the law or do they think they are "above the law"?
Have you ever left or sought help before? How did the respondent react? Has the respondent threatened that they will harm you if you ever seek help or call the police?
Because the respondent must be served with your order to make it enforceable - would it be safer for the police to serve it? A Process server? Or having a friend or family member who is over the age of 18 serve it? Most orders are served by law enforcement at the respondent's home but they can also be served at a workplace.
If you have children, are there ways you can have the respondent served so that it does not occur in front of your children?
About the Filing Process
If you or your children have experienced physical harm, bodily injury, assault, stalking, sexual assault OR the infliction of fear of imminent bodily harm, injury or assault by a family or household member, then you are eligible to file for a domestic violence protection order.
Family or household members are defined as:
- Former spouses
- Persons who have children in common
- Adult persons related by blood or marriage
- Adult persons residing together or who have resided together in the past
- Persons 16 years of age or older residing together and who have or have had a dating relationship
- Persons 16 years of age or older and who have or have had a dating relationship
- Persons who have a biological or legal parent child relationship, including stepparents and grandparents
The person you are filing the order against must be personally served your temporary order (that lists the restraints) and your petition (that contains the relief you are requesting and the history of behavior that the respondent has engaged in that makes you feel afraid).
The words "personally served" or "personal service" mean that someone over the age of 18, other than the petitioner, has personally given a copy of the temporary order and petition to the respondent. The temporary order puts the respondent on notice that there is a court order that restrains their behavior. It also gives them an opportunity to appear at the full hearing to defend themselves against the allegations listed in the petition. The person who serves the order on the respondent must complete a form swearing that they served the respondent. This form is called a "Return of Service" or "Affidavit of Service". You will want to get a copy of the Return of Service to keep with your order at all times to show that it has been served. The respondent does not need to sign anything to prove service.
The only way to have the police enforce your order is to make sure that the respondent has been served.
Because of this, be sure that you have not included any confidential addresses or information that you do not want the respondent to know on any of the court forms.
The protection order process involves two steps:
Step One: First, you must come in to court and fill out paperwork to file for the protection order. The two main forms you will be completing at this stage are:
a petition (where you tell the court what kind of protections you need and where you will write a narrative of the domestic violence that has occurred), and
a temporary order (the actual order that lists the behavior that respondent is prohibited from doing).
After completing these forms you will see a Judge. If the Judge finds that there is cause to believe that your temporary order should be granted based on your petition, then he or she will sign your temporary order making it a valid court order for 14 days. You will need to file the originals with the Clerk's office. The Clerk's office will then forward the order to the law enforcement agency where the respondent lives (or works) so that they can "personally serve" him or her with a copy of your temporary order and your petition. The Clerk's office will also give you certified copies of your order to always keep on your person in the event of a violation. The police can only enforce the order if there is proof that the respondent has been served with the temporary order and petition. Give yourself at least two hours to do this first step of the protection order process.
Step Two: Come in for your full order hearing. Give yourself at least 2 hours for this process. There may be many other protection order hearings scheduled at the same time. You must appear at this hearing if you want the court to continue the protections of your temporary order. If you do not appear, your case will be dismissed and your temporary order will automatically expire.
At the hearing for your full order, the court will be taking testimony from you and the respondent about the allegations of domestic violence. The Judge will make a finding of whether he or she believes that domestic violence occurred and whether the temporary order should be extended into a full order that lasts for a year or more. After your hearing, you will need to file the order with the court to obtain certified copies. If the respondent appeared at the hearing, there is no need for further service. If the respondent did not appear at the hearing, but was served with the temporary order, the Clerk's office will forward a copy of the full order to the Law Enforcement Agency where the respondent lives or works to serve him or her with the final order.
Please bring as much information as you have about the respondent, including his or her full name, date of birth, physical description, current and former addresses for work and home, telephone numbers, ID numbers, and work hours.
Although you do not have to have formal documentation of a history of domestic violence, it is always helpful if you can bring:
Copies of relevant police reports,
Any evidence to support your case including sworn witness statements, medical records and documented threats,
E-mail, voice mail messages or any other evidence of domestic violence,
Relevant Child Protective Services (CPS) records, if applicable.
Childcare is only available at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center, in Kent.
For other court locations, you are welcome to bring children in with you as you file for the temporary order, but please note that you will be responsible for their care at the same time you are trying to file your order. Be aware that there are space limitations, and, as a result, your child may hear or be exposed to information about your case that you do not want them to hear.
Minor children are NOT allowed in the courtrooms at the full / permanent hearing. Be sure to bring a support person who will watch your children outside of the courtroom or make other arrangements for their care.
The Protection Order Advocacy Program can assist you in setting up an interpreter for yourself or the respondent in the case. Members of the Protection Order Advocacy Program staff speak: Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi and Farsi. The Office of Interpreter Services of King County Superior Court contacts and reserves interpreters for all Superior Court matters.
If you need an interpreter to complete the Temporary Protection Order, please call the Protection Order Advocacy Program before you come in (if possible) so they can try to schedule an interpreter to assist with the process.
There are advocates available through the Protection Order Advocacy Program to assist you with the protection order process. The Protection Order Advocates are ONLY available at the King County Courthouse in Seattle, the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, and the King County District Court, Northeast Division, in Redmond. You do not have to make an appointment to receive help from an advocate.
- Assist you with the filing of the temporary and full order
- Provide information and referral to social service agencies
- Provide support, education and preparation prior to court hearings
- Provide advocacy during and after court proceedings
- Assist with preliminary safety planning and lethality assessment
For more information about their services, please call the Protection Order Advocacy Program.
Protection Order Advocacy Program Locations:
King County Courthouse, Room C213
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104-2312
Hours of operation: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. - noon, 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center, (Kent /South King County)
401 Fourth Avenue, Room 2B
Kent, WA 98032-4429
Hours of operation: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
King County District Court East Division, Redmond
8601 160th Avenue NE
Redmond, WA 98052-3548
Advocacy Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
You may still petition for orders at this location even if the Advocate is not present on Tuesdays and Thursdays
King County District Court Locations:
Locate the King County District Court near you.
A judge or commissioner will review your paperwork, may ask you some questions, and decide whether to grant or deny the Temporary Order for Protection. A hearing will be held in approximately 14 days at which time the court will grant or deny a "full" Order for Protection effective for one year or more. During the two weeks of the temporary order, the police, or another third party at your request, will try to serve the respondent with both the Petition and the Temporary Order to ensure the respondent has notice of the date set for the hearing and the behavior that is prohibited.
It is important to come to this hearing even if the respondent has not been served. The advocates can assist you with drafting an order that will continue your temporary order for another few weeks so that other attempts at service can be made.
Please bring any information you may have about the respondent's whereabouts (for example, home, work, regularly attended meetings, places he or she may "hang out" and others.)
At this hearing,
You will meet with the advocates.
They will help you draft your full order to include the protections that you want to continue from the temporary order.
The court will have read your petition and any other supplemental documents that you or the respondent provided.
The court will then take testimony from you and the respondent to determine whether they believe domestic violence occurred based on a preponderance of evidence.
The court will ask you and the respondent to talk about the abuse and or threats described in the petition.
You have the right to hire an attorney to represent you in this matter.
You may file a protection order in any District, Municipal or Superior Court in the county where you reside.
If you are filing for your temporary order in a District or Municipal court and you have one or more of the following circumstances, your case will get transferred to Superior Court for the full order hearing:
You have minor children in common with the respondent
You live in the same residence and are asking the court to vacate the respondent from the shared dwelling
You have a current or previous Family Law case in Superior Court (for example, a divorce, legal separation or parentage action).