What should I bring with me when I file for the temporary order?
PLEASE NOTE: Petitioners are not required to provide evidence or witness statements detailing the abuse to get a protection order. Most petitioners do not have this information and rely solely on their petition and testimony to serve as evidence of the abuse.
When you file for your temporary order you will need to write a statement describing the domestic violence you have experienced and when it occurred. If you have any evidence (i.e. witness statements, police reports, medical records, etc.) that support your allegations of abuse that you would like the court to consider, please bring it with you when you file for your temporary order. If you are unable to get these documents before you file for your temporary order, you can submit them before your full order hearing.
Examples of evidence:
- Police reports or charging documents (please contact the Protection Order Advocates for more information on obtaining police reports/charging documents)
- Medical records
- Photos of any injuries (color photos are preferred; if you need someone to take photos of your injuries, go to your local police department)
- Transcripts of or actual threatening voicemails/texts/e-mails
- Written statements (also known as declarations) from anyone who has ever seen or heard the abuse.
If you think you have or can gather this kind of information, contact the Protection Order Advocacy Program for information about how to submit this information to the court.
The full order/two week hearing
The purpose of the full order hearing is to give the petitioner an opportunity to let the court know whether the order needs to stay in place longer and to explain why it should remain in effect. It is also an opportunity for the petitioner to give the court information about new acts of domestic violence that have occurred since the temporary order went into effect. The respondent has the right to be present (but they aren’t required to attend) at the full order hearing. Petitioners should be prepared for the possibility of seeing the respondent at the courthouse and in the courtroom. Most respondents choose to attend the full order hearing. If the respondent does not appear, but has been properly served with at least 5 court days notice of the hearing, then the court can proceed with the hearing without the respondent being present.
PLEASE NOTE: A warrant will not be issued if the respondent fails to appear at a protection order hearing.
Respondent has not been served
If the respondent has not been served in time for your full order hearing, you should still attend the hearing if you would like your temporary protection order to be extended for a few more weeks so that other attempts at service can occur. If you do not appear at your full hearing, your order will be dropped and you will no longer have the protections the order gave you.
If you are concerned about safety at the full order hearing, please contact the Protection Order Advocates. Protection Order Advocates can help you safety plan for the full order hearing. In some circumstances, you may be able to request to appear by phone for the hearing. Please call the Protection Order Advocates for more information.
How to prepare for the full order hearing
Bring all of your protection order paperwork to court with you, including your Temporary Order for Protection, Petition for Order for Protection, and Law Enforcement Information Sheet. Bring copies of any divorce, parenting plan, paternity, or other related cases with you (if you can). At this hearing you will need to tell the court how and when the respondent physically hurt, threatened, stalked you or why you have imminent fear that these things will happen to you. If the respondent is present he or she will have an opportunity to tell the court why a full order should not be entered. After listening to both of you the court will decide whether to grant you a longer protection order (sometimes referred to as a “full order”).
PLEASE NOTE: A Protection Order Advocate will be with you at the full order hearing (in Superior Court) to help you prepare for the hearing and to stand with you while you address the court.
The court does not usually allow witnesses to testify at protection order hearings, but if other people have witnessed the domestic violence you experienced you can ask them to fill out declaration forms describing what they saw or heard. All statements from witnesses must be signed and dated and include this sentence above the signature: I certify under penalty of perjury under the laws of the state of Washington that the foregoing is true and correct.
Witness statements and any other documents you want the court to consider must be filed with the court, provided to the judge or commissioner as “working papers,” and provided to the respondent in advance of the hearing. If the court or the respondent does not receive the copies in advance, it may be necessary to postpone the hearing to give everyone time to read them. Protection Order Advocates can help you prepare and submit your documents in advance of the hearing.
Visitation and the full order hearing
Although a protection order can include minor children and can include provisions regarding what kind of contact the respondent should or should not have with the children, it is not the same as a custody order or ‘Parenting Plan’. A Parenting Plan is considered a family law action and is a separate legal case that either party can file for before, during, or after a Protection Order (to establish a more comprehensive plan regarding the children). It is common for Protection Order petitioners who have children in common to file for a Parenting Plan at some point in time. Many Protection Order petitioners file for a parenting plan after they have filed for their Protection Order and after they have consulted with a family law attorney or the Family Law Facilitator’s Office.
It is important to know that even though your protection order may contain language about visitation and or contact with the minor children, the Parenting Plan (once entered by the court) will supersede (or replace) the parts of the protection order that relate to the children. It is recommended that petitioners consider filing for a Parenting Plan as a long-term solution for custody and visitation issues. At a minimum, petitioners will want to learn more about Parenting Plans and other family law options in case the respondent files a family law action and they get served with family law paperwork.
If you and the respondent have children in common and a parenting plan does not exist, visitation will be addressed at the full order hearing. To prepare for this hearing, think about a possible schedule for visits and any conditions you may want to request regarding visitation. You can request that visits be supervised by a professional supervisor or by a friend or family member if you think it is important for your children’s safety. You can also request that the respondent participate in programs such as domestic violence intervention, parenting classes, and chemical dependency treatment as a condition of visitation (see resources). Consider calling an advocate before your hearing to discuss visitation options.
If the court has ordered that the respondent have visitation with the children it is important to comply with the order. If at any time you think the visitation arrangements are no longer safe for you or your children you can ask the court to modify the protection order. You will need to tell the court what has changed since the original decision was made and why the visitation arrangements are no longer safe. Please remember: the protection order advocates can help you modify your order, click here for more information about modifying your order.
If you will be meeting the respondent to exchange the children for visitation, make a safety plan for the exchanges. Take someone with you, carry a cell phone, make sure you are not followed from the exchange point and set the exchange to take place in a well populated, public place. Encourage your children to tell a trusted adult if something happens to make them feel unsafe during visits. Talk with an advocate about other ways you can be safer during visitation exchanges.