October 2, 2020

Domestic Violence Protection Orders: Frequently Asked Questions

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Domestic Violence Protection Orders: Frequently Asked Questions

If you are applying for or considering a protection order, our team of legal advocates has put together a list of frequently asked questions for you to review. If you choose to review the answers, they can help you prepare for an appointment with an advocate to further discuss your personal situation, prompt you to contact a different agency, and/or equip you with the knowledge you need to move forward on your own.  

  • How and Where do I File?

    • For Superior Court, you must file in room 202. They are open Monday through Friday, 1:30pm-4:00pm and Wednesday/Friday, 9:00am-12:00pm. You can pick up the Protection Order packets in room 300 of the courthouse or from our office. 
    • For District Court, you can file online by filling out the petition via the pdf form and then emailing the packet to civilprotectionorder@spokanecounty.org. A judge will review your petition weekdays from 1:15 to 3:15 pm. There are no reviews on the weekend. You will be notified regarding the status of your Petition the same day the Petition is reviewed, and you may receive further instructions at that time.
    • If you are 16 and older you can file a petition for a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order or Anti-harassment order on your own. Anyone under 16 has to have a guardian over 18, file on their behalf. 
  • How long will it take?

    • Once you fill out the petition and file it at the courthouse you will be given a court hearing two weeks out. If the respondent is not served within the two weeks the court hearing will be extended another two weeks out, up to 3 times. 
  • Does it cost money?

    • Domestic Violence Civil Protection Orders are free. An Anti-harassment Order costs $53, however, there are fee waivers available with the court clerk. 
  • Can I add my family members?

    • You can add minor children to your petition. Anyone over 18, even if living in the home, will have to file their own petition.
  • Should I file an Anti-Harassment order or a Civil Protection Order?

    • If your situation meets the burden of domestic violence in the state of Washington you can file a Civil Protection order:

Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, sexual assault, or stalking as defined in RCW 9A”

    • How do I know which court to file in?
        • Superior Court: If you currently live together, are married, in the process of getting a divorce or recently divorced, share children, or are filing on behalf of a minor you will have to file in Superior Court. 
        • District Court: If you do not live together, do not share any children (or children are over 18), are not married, or have been officially divorced for some time you can file in District Court. 
    • Anti-harassment orders are appropriate if the person you want protection from:
      • Has acted without legitimate or lawful purpose in a way that shows a continuity of purpose;
      • Has directed the actions to your or your child;
      • And the things the person said or did have seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed you and were the kind of things that would cause a reasonable person substantial emotional distress and have actually caused you substantial emotional distress;
      • Or the person has done or said things that would cause a reasonable parent to fear for the wellbeing of their child.

Reference Documents:

Navigating the legal system and courts can be overwhelming. Legal terms, processes, and federal/state/municipal laws are often confusing and frustrating. The answers above can provide you with a solid foundation of understanding. The following documents may help solidify or expand upon your understanding.

Types of Court Orders Grid

Types of Protection Orders Flowchart

Spokane County Resource Flyer for Seeking A Protection Order

Domestic Violence Protection Orders and Anti-Harassment Orders Explained

Instructions for Anti-Harassment Orders

YWCA Spokane Legal Advocacy Services Guide 

YWCA Spokane is Here for You

If you or someone you know is impacted by intimate partner domestic violence, know that confidential advocates are always available through our 24hr helpline services by calling 509-326-2255, emailing help@ywcaspokane.org, or texting 509-220-3725. 

To learn more about accessing additional services through YWCA Spokane during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit ywcaspokane.org/services. Thank you!

By: Mia Morton

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