You finally left your ex, but you’re afraid he’ll come after you. He’s threatened you in the past, and you’re not sure what he’s capable of—should you file a civil protection order, and will it do any good if you do?

Who Can Get a Civil Protection Order in Washington State?

Any family or household member who has suffered an attack of domestic violence can file a CPO in Washington State. This means that any victim who has experienced bodily injury, sexual assault, stalking, physical harm, or is in present fear of imminent physical harm, assault, or injury, may restrict contact with the family member or household member. Family members who typically file CPOs against attackers include:

  • Spouses
  • Former spouses
  • One or more parents of a child
  • Adults related by blood or marriage
  • Adults who live (or have lived) together
  • Any person 16 years of age or older who was (or is) in a dating relationship with the assailant
  • Any person with a legal or biological parent-child relationship (such as a grandparent or step-parent)

What Does a Civil Protection Order Do?

The first thing domestic violence victims should realize is that a Civil Protection Order is a court petition and does not involve the police or criminal charges. A Civil Protection Order is intended to:

  • Prohibit contact of any kind between the abuser and the victimCourt ordered protective order for domestic abuse
  • Prohibit the abuser from entering a shared residence
  • Grant temporary custody of children to the victim
  • Limit the abuser’s contact with children
  • Order the abuser to receive counseling

Victims should also note that the Seattle Municipal Court does not accept petitions for Civil Protection Orders. Petitions must be filed at King County Superior Court in Seattle, WA 98104. You can also contact the Protection Order Advocacy Program at (206) 296-9547 for assistance with completing forms and meeting paperwork deadlines.

How Long Does the Civil Protection Order Last?

A CPO is meant to be a temporary no-contact order, and may last up to fourteen days to prevent contact between the victim and abuser while a hearing is scheduled. The hearing should take place within the fourteen-day period protected by the order. The protection order may be reissued throughout the course of the hearing.

If you are a victim, Seattle has created safe places for you and your family.  For more information on how we can help you, contact us today at (425) 460-0550.

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