Modifying or Terminating a Protection Order in your Family Law Case

Protection orders may be granted in a number of circumstances.  They can be agreed upon by the parties.  They can also be ordered by the court after a hearing of the parties.  In some cases the need for a protection order decreases, or the protection order unnecessarily impacts the restrained party from employment or other opportunities.  If one or both parties believe that the protection order should be modified, they can seek that modification or termination by motion.

Termination or modification of an order of protection is governed by RCW 26.50.130.  This statute provides the process for how to request that a court modify or terminate a protection order.  What follows is a summary of that process.  

If the protection order is permanent or was to last for over two years the moving party must include a declaration stating the reasons the request for modification or termination should be granted. If the motion is brought by only one party, the motion must be served on the other party.  Then the other party has an opportunity to file a declaration stating reasons the order should not be modified or terminated.  The court reviews both sides’ declarations and determines whether adequate cause has been shown to have a full hearing on the motion for termination or modification.

At the full hearing, the restrained party must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been a substantial change in circumstances so that it is unlikely that the restrained person will resume domestic violence against the protected persons if the order is modified or terminated.  To determine whether there has been a substantial change of circumstances the court will review of circumstances related to the factors listed in RCW 26.50.130(3)(c).  These factors help the court determine whether or not the restrained party is likely to commit future acts of domestic violence against the protected persons.

The court is prohibited from basing its determination of whether there has been a substantial change of circumstances on the passage of time without a violation of the order, or the fact that the parties no longer live near to each other.  RCW 26.50.130(3)(d).

In some cases, even if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, the court may decide to refuse to modify or terminate a protection order.  They can do this in cases where the circumstances that led to the order of protection being entered were of such a gravity that the order should not be terminated.

Under a number of circumstances the court is also to look at the factors in RCW 26.50.130(3)(c) when determining whether the requested modification is warranted.

If the protected party is the one seeking to have the motion terminated or modified he or she may do so without a hearing for adequate cause.

If you would like advice about having a protection order terminated or modified, or if you are in need of assistance in having a protection order maintained, Blair Kim will help you with every step of the process.  Please contact us today.

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