Many people use the terms “protective order” and “restraining order” interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences under Washington law between these court orders. Learning the difference between these orders is important should you or a loved one ever need to get the type of protection that one of these court orders can offer.

A domestic violence protection order can be an independent court action or it can relate to an ongoing family law case. It must be based on allegations of domestic violence. You must file a petition asking the court to grant you an order of protection. In an emergency situation, the court can issue an immediate protection order that is good for up to 14 days. The court will schedule a hearing within that timeframe in order to decide how long the protection order should last.

A domestic violence protection order is a civil court order that prohibits a family or household member who threatened or assaulted you from doing it again. A protection order also can contain other provisions designed to protect you, such as ordering the other person to:

• Stay a certain distance away
• Not enter your residence
• Leave your shared residence
• Not contact the other person
• Grant you possession of certain items of personal property
• Grant you usage of a vehicle
• Attend counseling

A court in the context of a domestic violence protection order also can award one parent temporary custody of children and set up a visitation schedule for the other parent. However, most judges expect the parents to file a Petition to Modify an existing parenting plan or petition for a new parenting with the court. A new parenting plan can be established in the context of a divorce, legal separation, or when parents have never married.

Restraining orders are similar to domestic violence protection orders and are used in the absence of domestic violence. A restraining order can order the restraints as a domestic violence protection order. It can also be used in the context of shared property and order that your partner not dispose of property, change insurance, or make other changes that would affect your ability to provide for yourself or your children. Other orders regarding support may be asked for at the same time as a restraining order, too.

The Washington divorce lawyers at Pacific Northwest Family Law are eager to answer your questions and help you understand the ins and outs of filing for domestic violence restraining orders and other types of restraining orders. As your attorneys, we will focus on how best to represent your interests and achieve your desired goals. We have handled countless divorce and family law proceedings over the years, and we will work with you to create the best strategy possible in your case. Call our offices at (509) 537-1961 and learn how we can help you with your Washington family law case.