While your spouse cannot make changes to an existing protection order without your knowledge, it is possible for him or her to petition the court to modify—or even cancel—the order of protection.

What Does a Spouse Have to Do to Cancel or Modify a Protection Order in WA?

The first thing your spouse must do is make a motion to the court that provides ample notice to all parties. Your spouse must provide a written declaration that establishes the reasons for the requested change (you are able to file an opposing declaration if you object to the modification). There will then be a hearing to submit and discuss the evidence supporting modification, after which the court will decide whether to grant the motion.

At the hearing, your spouse must prove to the court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that make him or her extremely unlikely to resume acts of domestic violence against you. Evidence in this case may include:

  • Your spouse has not committed or threatened any violent acts toward you since the protection order was issued.
  • Your spouse has never violated the terms of the protection order.
  • Your spouse has not attempted or threatened suicide since the activation of the order.
  • Your spouse has not been convicted of a crime since the protection order was activated.
  • Your spouse has acknowledged responsibility for past acts of domestic violence.
  • Your spouse has successfully completed a course of domestic violence perpetrator treatment.
  • Your spouse no longer exhibits drug or alcohol abuse (if such abuse was named in the protection order).

Merely adhering to these points is not enough; the spouse must prove them to the court by a preponderance of evidence. Even if a substantial change in circumstances can be proved, a modification request may be denied if the court decides that the original act of domestic violence was so severe that the protection order should remain permanently in place.

If someone in your family needs legal protection from an abuser, click the contact link on this page. We can contact you privately to let you know which options are available to you.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington