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Protection Order
Advocacy Program

Seattle (206) 477-1103
Kent (206) 477-3758

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1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.

Protection Order Process

Domestic violence protection order process

A protection order is a civil court order that you, the petitioner, can request from the court to protect you from your abuser, the respondent.

# 1Obtaining and completing the forms

The first step in obtaining a Domestic Violence Protection Order is to obtain all of the forms you will need to file the order. You can obtain the forms in a variety of places:

  1. On-line, through this website or www.courts.wa.gov
  2. At the Protection Order Advocacy Program in both Superior Courts in King County
  3. In the Clerk’s Office of any District or Superior Court in King County

Assistance with completing the forms is available from advocates in the Protection Order Advocacy Program in King County Superior Courts (Seattle and Kent). Please click here to contact the Protection Order Advocates.

You will need to fill out several forms but one of the most important forms you will need to complete is called the Petition for Order for Protection. It is on this form that you will let the court know:

  • Who needs to be protected (yourself and/or your children)
  • What kinds of protections you are requesting (based on a series of boxes you can check)
  • Why you believe you need the protection

You will be asked to complete a statement (in the petition) that describes the domestic violence you and or your children have experienced and approximately when it occurred.

# 2Filing the forms with the Court

Once you complete the forms you will need to file them with the Clerk’s Office. The clerk will stamp a case number on your forms and will then send you to see a Judge or Commissioner who will decide if a two week, temporary order should be granted. This is referred to as the ex parte hearing.

# 3Presenting your order to a Judge/Commissioner:

Go to the courtroom the Clerk directs you to after filing your order. Hand your paperwork to the in-court Clerk and have a seat. The Judge or Commissioner will call you up when he or she is ready to hear your case.

The Judge or Commissioner will:

  • Read the forms you completed (including the statement)
  • May ask you a few questions
  • Will decide whether or not to grant you a two week temporary protection order

# 4Filing your signed order with the Clerk’s Office

Once the Judge or Commissioner signs the order, be sure to take it back to the Clerk’s Office so that you can obtain free, certified copies of the order. Request as many as you need to always have a copy on you, to give to your employer, to your child(ren)’s school or daycare, etc. The Clerk will send a copy of your signed order to the law enforcement agency where the respondent lives or works so they can “serve” the respondent with a copy of the petition and the temporary order.

# 5Order sent to Law Enforcement for “personal service” on the Respondent:

Order sent to Law Enforcement for “personal service” on the Respondent:

Once law enforcement receives the temporary order and petition from the court, they will attempt to find the respondent (based on the address(es) and information you provided) and serve him or her with a copy of the Petition and the Temporary Order. These documents let the respondent know that an order is in place (notice), the behaviors that he or she is restrained from doing and the allegations you made about the domestic violence. Please be aware: Do not include any confidential addresses or confidential information on the petition or temporary order because the respondent will get a copy of them. Further, even though a temporary protection order is in place, it is critical to continue to take steps for you and your children to remain safe – especially around the time that the order is served. To talk with an advocate about your safety any time of day or night – please click here

# 6Service of the order is CRITICAL to its enforcement:

Your temporary order is in effect from the moment the Judge or Commissioner signs it BUT the police will not be able to arrest or request criminal charges against the respondent for violating the order until there is proof that the respondent was personally served with a copy of the order. Once respondent has been served, he or she can be arrested or charged for violations.

In order for the court to extend your temporary order longer than the initial two weeks, there must be proof that respondent was served with the Temporary Order and Petition at least five court days before the next scheduled hearing. If you know that the respondent has not been served but you still want the order to be in place, you must appear for the hearing and may request a continuance or extension of the temporary order.

# 7Full Order Hearing:

Fourteen days after your temporary order is signed by the Judge or Commissioner, a second hearing (referred to as the full hearing) will be held. It is at this hearing that the respondent will likely appear and the court will take testimony from both of you and then make the decision of whether to extend the temporary protections to make them more permanent (usually 1 year but can be longer). Advocates are available to help you at your full hearing in both Superior Courts in King County (Seattle and Kent). Please click here to contact the Protection Order Advocates.

# 8Filing your Full Order

Once the court signs your full order, you must take the order to the Clerk’s Office to file the original and to obtain free certified copies. As before, request as many as you need to always have a copy on you, to give to your employer, to your child(ren)’s school or daycare, etc. If the respondent was not present at the hearing, the Clerk’s Office will send a copy of your new order to law enforcement to serve the respondent with the most recent order.

# 9Enforcing your order

Although listed as a last step, enforcing your order may need to happen throughout the time you have the temporary order and sometimes even when the court has entered a full order. Calling 911 is the best way to report violations of orders that involve harm, assault, stalking, contact or the respondent going to a location where he or she is prohibited from being. When you call 911, be sure to have a copy of your order with you and if possible, a copy of the form that shows that the respondent was served with your order (often called a “return of service” or “affidavit of service”.)

It is also important to keep a personal record of any violations in the event that you want to modify or renew the order. Please contact the Protection Order Advocates for more information about enforcing the order. Please click here to contact the Protection Order Advocates.