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Domestic Violence Questions & Information
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may require a court order for protection. There are three types of court orders that can protect you, depending on whether other legal proceedings have already been filed:
- A No Contact Order if a criminal charge has been filed against the abuser
- An Order for Protection whether or not a criminal charge or domestic relations case has been filed
- A Restraining Order only if a domestic relations case, such as a divorce or child custody action, has been filed
Before You Seek an Order
If you are attacked (physically assaulted), call the police immediately. The police must arrest the abuser if you are or were in a domestic relationship and the police have reason to believe an assault occurred within the past four hours.
Order for Protection
An Order for Protection can order an abuser to stop threatening, harassing or molesting you, or your children, and to stay away from your home, work, or school. Under some circumstances, it can require your abuser to surrender weapons, award temporary child custody, and provide for possession of a car or other essential items. Forms to apply for an Order for Protection are available at the clerk's office for District or Superior Court. It is not necessary to have an attorney; a Family Law Facilitator is available to assist you. No fees are charged. You can apply for a Temporary Order without giving any notice to the other party. The Temporary Order will be issued immediately and will set a date for a court hearing and notify the other party. You must attend the court hearing or your case will be dismissed. At the hearing, the judge can issue a Permanent or long-term order for your protection after hearing from you and the other party (if he or she chooses to appear).
To issue an Order for Protection, the judge must find both a domestic relationship between you and the abuser, and that domestic violence has occurred.
You have a domestic relationship if you and the abuser are now or were formally married, live together now or in the past, are adult relatives or in-laws, have a child in common, or have an intimate relationship now or in the past.
Domestic violence includes physical abuse or threats, sexual abuse or threats and stalking.
Custody & Protection of Children
When a child is the victim of violence, you can seek an Order for Protection on the child's behalf; forms to be appointed as the child's legal representative are available in the clerk's office. An Order for Protection will address temporary custody of children and visitation only when it is necessary as part of protecting you or the child from domestic violence. A petition for an Order for Protection is not a child custody proceeding.
No Contact Order
If the abuser is charged with assault or some other crime against you, he/she will likely have conditions ordered by a judge before being released. Those conditions can include an order requiring the person not to come near you or contact you - a No Contact Order.
Since the Prosecuting Attorney is responsible for filing criminal cases, you should contact that office as soon as possible after the charge is filed to request a No Contact Order. The Prosecutor's Victim/Witness Coordinator will assist. If the person accused violates the order, he/she can be arrested and held in jail until the criminal case is finished. If the abuser is eventually convicted of a domestic violence crime, the court's sentence will also include a long-term No Contact Order if you request it.
If there is a divorce, child custody or similar case pending, you can seek a Restraining Order as part of that case. A Restraining Order is often issued at the same time the case is filed.
If can have all the provisions of an Order for Protection or No Contact Order, but can also give you other protections. For instance, in addition to personal protections, a Restraining Order can prohibit your abuser from destroying or selling property, taking money from bank accounts, canceling insurance, etc. If you are represented by a lawyer, he/she will discuss a Restraining Order with you. However, self-help divorce kits and form packets, available in the Superior Court Clerk's Office, also contain the forms for seeking a Restraining Order.
When an Order is Violated
Violation of the personal protection provisions of an order is a criminal offense. Regardless of which type of order you obtain, if the abuser violates the provisions regarding your personal protection, call the law enforcement agency where the violation occurs. Grant County Sheriff's Office may be called at 509-762-1160 or 888-431-9911, call 911 if it is an emergency. Tell them you have an Order for Protection (or No Contact Order, or Restraining Order), and that you believe your abuser has violated it.
When Orders are issued, they are entered into a state-wide computer system. Any Washington Law Enforcement Agency will be able to confirm that you have an order. The provisions of a Restraining Order regarding preservation of property, bank accounts and so on cannot be enforced by arrest of the violator, but only by a Contempt of Court proceeding. Forms to initiate such a proceeding are available in the clerk's office where your case is pending.
Consult a local crisis service or victim's shelter if you feel that you need a safe place to stay.
You can read the Washington laws on domestic violence at your public library. Ask to see a Revised Code of Washington, Section 16.09.050, Chapter 26.50, Chapter 10.31 and Chapter 10.99.
Domestic Violence Resources
View a list of domestic violence services available to residents of Grant County.