Restraining orders are issued by judges to protect victims of abuse, harassment and stalking from further violence. In Washington State, restraining orders are one of several types of court orders available to victims for protection. While they cover family law issues, they are broader in scope than domestic violence protective orders.
When someone wants protection from a person who is abusing, harassing, stalking or otherwise harming them, they will often ask the court for a "restraining order." However, in Washington State there are several types of court orders, each with a specific purpose, that may be applicable in different situations. While a restraining order is one specific type of protective court order, Washington State also offers Domestic Violence Orders for Protection (for domestic violence situations), No-Contact Orders (which are part of criminal cases) and Civil Antiharassment Orders (which apply in situations where the respondent and plaintiff are not related, such as in stranger-stalking cases).
In Washington State, restraining orders are similar to domestic violence protective orders, although they are broader in scope. Like domestic violence protective orders, they are civil court orders which restrict family or household members who are violent towards victims from harming them further. Restraining orders are typically filed as part of a divorce, paternity, or other family law case, but also address a wider array of issues other than just domestic violence.
Restraining orders have a broader scope than domestic violence protective orders. Typically filed as part of a divorce, paternity, or other family law case, they also can address issues of property, child and spousal support and temporary custody. Additionally, like domestic violence protective orders, restraining orders can order the respondent not to threaten or hurt a victim, mandate counseling, grant rights to a shared domicile, a vehicle, or personal belongings, and forbid the respondent from entering the victim's home.
Obtaining a Restraining Order
Go to your local court and request the forms for filing a restraining order from the clerk. (These forms are also available online.) Complete the forms and have them reviewed by the clerk. There is no fee to file.
Once you file your petition, the clerk will issue you a case number. If you are requesting a temporary order---to protect you until a full hearing---you will go immediately to a hearing before a judge. After the hearing, the clerk will file your temporary order and give you as many copies as you need.
The clerk will provide a packet with a copy of the petition and the temporary order (if applicable) to law enforcement to be served on the respondent.
A full hearing will be held within 14 days, at which time the judge will determine whether to grant a restraining order. If the paperwork was properly served, the hearing will proceed even if the respondent does not appear.
Temporary orders for protection can be granted by the district, municipal and superior courts, in an attempt to ensure all victims have immediate access to emergency protection. However, in many full restraining order situations, the case must be heard by the superior court. The superior court hears all cases involving child custody or visitation issues; exclusion from a shared domicile; or any family case in which superior court action is already pending.