When one parent seeks a protection order against the other parent, they often ask that the order also be applied to the children. However, when a court issues a domestic violence protection order, any provisions addressing the residential arrangement of minor children must be made in accordance with Washington child custody laws. The court must make findings as to the relevant factors justifying the modification. In a recent case, a Washington appeals court considered whether a protection order that included the child was an improper modification of the parenting plan.
The couple divorced in 2015 and the parenting plan gave each parent 50% residential time with their child. In 2017, the ex-wife petitioned for a protection order, alleging her ex-husband had given her a threatening letter. In the letter, he stated he had two things to live for: “redemption by taking revenge on [his ex-wife]…” and protecting his son. The wife also provided a post on a website purportedly made by the ex-husband in 2015, stating he “contemplated murder and considered violence” but that his “son was too young to be separated from his mother permanently.
Following a hearing, the commissioner issued a protection order restraining the ex-husband from contact with the ex-wife or the child except for his supervised visits.