Major changes in Washington’s civil protection order laws took effect July 1, 2022. The changes were intended to update and harmonize laws related to civil protection orders.
Civil protection order laws are now consolidated under RCW 7.105. Under the new law, rules and procedures will be more standardized across the different types of protection orders. There are procedural changes to service of process and hearings. Electronic service is now prioritized except in cases requiring the surrender of firearms, cases involving the transfer of custody of a child, cases involving removal of the respondent from a shared residence, cases where the respondent is incarcerated, and vulnerable adult protection order cases filed by someone other than the vulnerable adult. RCW 7.105.150.
Hearings related to protection orders may be held in person or remotely. The court must allow a party to appear remotely unless it finds good cause to require them to attend in person or by other specific means. RCW 7.105.205.
Definitional changes have broadened the circumstances under which a person may obtain a domestic violence protection order. The new definition of “domestic violence” eliminates the requirement of imminence in the infliction of fear of physical harm, bodily injury or assault. “Coercive control” and “unlawful harassment” are also now included in the definition of domestic violence. RCW 7.105.010.
“Family or household members” is no longer limited to adults with regard to persons related by blood or marriage or who currently reside together or who have done so in the past. RCW 7.105.010. “Intimate partner” now includes persons in a dating relationship where both parties are at least thirteen years old, reduced from sixteen. RCW 7.105.010.
The court may not dismiss or deny a protection order because the alleged conduct would meet the criteria for a different type of protection order. RCW 7.105.100. Courts must prioritize ex parte temporary protection order petitions and either enter an order without a hearing or hold the hearing on the day the petition is filed if possible or otherwise not later than the next judicial day. RCW 7.105.105(12). When a petitioner requests an ex parte temporary domestic violence protection order and requests to include their minor children, there is a rebuttable presumption to include the children as protected parties until a full hearing occurs unless there is good cause not to do so. RCW 7.105.100(8).
Most of the changes primarily benefit the petitioner, but one change is particularly detrimental to respondents. When a continuance is requested based on a pending criminal matter, the court must now apply a rebuttable presumption against the delay and consider certain enumerated factors. One of the factors is the extent to which the respondent’s Fifth Amendment rights are implicated “given the special nature of protection order proceedings, which burden a defendant’s Fifth Amendment privilege less than do other civil proceedings.” RCW 7.105.200.
If a court finds the respondent was actually the victim in proceedings related to domestic violence or antiharassment protection orders, the court may realign the parties. The court may also issue a temporary protection order to allow the actual victim time to prepare their own petition. RCW 7.105.210.
While these and the other extensive changes will ultimately simplify and clarify civil protection order laws, there is still likely to be confusion in the short term. Whether you are seeking or opposing a protection order, the Washington civil protection order attorneys at Blair & Kim, PLLC, have the knowledge to guide you through the process while fighting to protect your rights regarding family or criminal matters. Set up a consultation to discuss your case at (206) 622-6562.