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What Kinds of Behavior Justify a Restraining Order?

What Kinds of Behavior Justify a Restraining Order?

August 19, 2016 written by Ashby Law

One of the best things that victims of violence or abuse can do to protect themselves is to file a restraining order. These orders prohibit a person from doing something, like contacting a victim or accessing a joint bank account. In Washington, victims of violence often file for a Domestic Violence Order of Protection (DVOP).

For victims of domestic abuse, a DVOP can solve many problems, at least on a temporary basis. For instance, a DVOP may:

  • Order someone not to harm or threaten you,
  • Order someone to stay away from you, your residence, or your children,
  • Give you temporary custody of children or create a temporary visitation schedule
  • Grant you possession of property, vehicles, or a shared residence, and
  • Order the abuser to attend counseling.

DVOPs are often granted on an emergency basis to prevent a person from being injured or abused. For that reason, many judges err on the side of caution and grant emergency DVOPs liberally. However, when an emergency DVOP is granted, the respondent (the person who the restraining order was filed against) has the opportunity to object to the DVOP and present his or her side of the situation to the judge at a hearing.

Many of the things that a DVOP can do will significantly restrict a person’s freedom. If a judge is going to grant a DVOP that makes the respondent leave his or her home or restricts visitation with his or her children, the judge will want sufficient proof that the DVOP is necessary.

During a DVOP hearing, the petitioner (the person who asked for the restraining order) must be able to show sufficient proof of danger. In Washington State, a judge will only enter a permanent or long-term order if the judge believes that it is more likely than not that the respondent will resume acts of domestic violence against the petitioner.

In order to meet this standard, the petitioner needs to have more proof than hearsay and unsupported allegations. Victims of domestic violence should keep records of their partner’s actions in order to support their claim for a permanent restraining order.

For instance, a person may provide the court with various records to show a history of violence. Police reports, medical records, and photos of injuries are all powerful evidence of abuse. Additionally, the petitioner can testify about the abuse and call witnesses to support his or her claims. Family members, children, police officers, or anyone else who witnessed the violence or abuse can testify about the danger to the petitioner from the respondent. Finally, a victim of domestic violence may be able to present the court with records of text messages, emails, voicemails, or any other communications which show threats or a propensity towards violence.

Keeping careful records of any instances of abuse or threatening behaviors can help a judge understand the need for a protective order. If you are the victim of domestic abuse, it is important to work with an attorney who can help you present the evidence you need to keep a restraining order in place.

At Ashby Law, our attorneys do not tolerate domestic violence and work hard to help individuals leave dangerous situations. If your spouse or partner is violent, our attorneys can help you get a protective order, divorce, or child custody arrangement that will keep your family safe.

To learn more about how Ashby Law can help you, contact our office today by calling 509-572-3700.

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