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Mike Garcia
Mike Garcia, Paralegal
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Experience:  Family Law, Legal Researcher, Small Claims Advisor
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Does a restraining order have to be served to the ...

Customer Question

Does a restraining order have to be served to the person? How long are they for and what is a warranted restraining order?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Mike Garcia replied 7 years ago.
Does a restraining order have to be served to the person?

Service of process.
The respondent must be "served" or given notice of a hearing five judicial days prior to the hearing. If the respondent has not been served in time, the hearing will be rescheduled. In that situation, you may ask the court to reissue the temporary order and attempt to have the respondent served again.

If the respondent was not served in time and shows up at the hearing, the court may proceed even though service was not timely. If the respondent was served but does not show up at the hearing, the hearing will proceed without the respondent.

The clerk will send the law enforcement office a copy of the Petition for the Order for Protection and a copy of the temporary order (if you were granted one) to serve the respondent. A Return of Service form and a Law Enforcement Information Sheet will also be included for law enforcement's use.

Any adult 18 or over, other than you, can serve the papers. However, people usually want a law enforcement officer to serve he papers, since there could be a dangerous situation. Law enforcement officers are an objective third party trained to handle problems. The court may order the law enforcement agency where the respondent resides to serve the papers. Fees vary with each agency. Sometimes, the respondent may be responsible for these fees. Be sure to tell the clerk if you are unable to pay the fees.

Under civil law, one person sues another for a private wrong. In a civil domestic violence action, you are asking the court to resolve the conflict between you and your abuser. You are not asking the court to punish your abuser for committing a crime. The Orders for Protection we talk about on this page are under the civil law system.

Criminal Law
The criminal law system handles cases that involve crimes such as harassment, assault, murder, stalking, and theft. The police may arrest your abuser and then the district attorney may decide to charge your abuser with a crime. In many cases you can choose whether or not to "press charges," but once someone is arrested, the district attorney is the one who decides whether to charge that person with a crime and how to proceed with it.

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Washington?

Domestic violence is when one ore more of the following things occur between "family or household members":

  • physical harm
  • bodily injury
  • assault
  • sexual assault
  • stalking
  • the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault

Domestic violence comes in many forms. This definition includes many types of abusive behaviors, such as pushing, hitting, slapping, biting, choking, and other conduct that causes you harm or puts you in fear of being hurt.

What is a Domestic Violence Order for Protection?

A domestic violence Order for Protection is a paper which is signed by a judge and tells your abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences. It offers civil legal protection from domestic violence to both women and men victims.

Am I eligible to file for a Domestic Violence Order for Protection?

You are eligible to file for a Domestic Violence Order for Protection if you or your minor child has been abused by:

  • your spouse or former spouse,
  • someone you have a child in common with,
  • adult persons related to you by blood or marriage,
  • adult persons residing with you now or who have resided with you in the past,
  • someone who you live with or used to live with AND that you have or had a dating relationship with. You both must be over 16 years old.
  • someone you are having or had a dating relationship with. You must both be over 16 years old.
  • someone who has a biological or legal parent-child relationship with you, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.

If someone other than one of these people is hurting you, there are other petitions that you may be eligible to file for protection against violence.

Note: In Washington, you may apply for an Order for Protection against a current or former same-sex partner. Please note that it is up to each individual judge, and some judges may not grant these. Please talk to someone at a local domestic violence organization for help determining how a judge is likely to rule in your case.

What types of Orders for Protection are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of Domestic Violence Orders for Protection in WA:

Temporary Order for Protection.
A temporary (ex parte) Order for Protection Is designed to protect you until the court hearing you must have for a Final Order for Protection. You can receive a temporary order without a court hearing, and without your abuser’s knowledge. ("Ex parte" means without your abuser present.)

A judge will grant the temporary order only if s/he believes that you are in immediate danger. Temporary orders last for 14 days or until your court hearing for a Final Order for Protection.

Final Order for Protection.

A Final Order for Protection can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story.

If the order includes a provision restraining the abuser from contacting minor children, then the judge will grant it for a period of time up to a year. Otherwise, the order may be for a fixed period or permanent. If fixed, you can ask to have it extended.

what is a warranted restraining order?

What will I have to prove at the hearing? As the plaintiff requesting an Order for Protection, you must:
  • Prove that the defendant has committed acts of domestic violence (as defined by the law) against you; and
  • Convince the judge that you need protection and the specific things you asked for in the Petition.

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Mike Garcia
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Family Law, Legal Researcher, Small Claims Advisor