Violence and threats of harm may leave victims terrified. Abusive individuals who menace others could be strangers or acquaintances, or they might even be close relatives or former friends. Washington law provides options for those seeking protection from harm, but victims might not know what process serves their needs. Should someone fearful for their lives seek a domestic violence restraining order, known as a DVPO, or a temporary restraining order?
Seeking legal protection against a threat
A person’s individual situation may dictate whether a domestic violence or a temporary restraining order is appropriate. A judge issues a DVPO when a relative or household member physically harms, intends to harm or threatens to harm someone else. Battery and sexual assault represent two forms of violence that may prompt a judge to issue a DVPO against an abuser.
Fear over violent or aggressive behavior could lead a judge to issue a DVPO. If someone feels they are in imminent danger of physical harm or is the victim of stalking, asking a judge for a DVPO may be appropriate.
A domestic violence victim seeking the restraining order would appear in court and present evidence to the judge. Be mindful that the person accused of violent behavior or intentions could plead his or her case against the DVPO.
Exploring temporary restraining orders
A temporary restraining order is not the same thing as a DVPO. A family law judge may issue a temporary restraining order while a family law case occurs but has yet to conclude. The judge might make other temporary rulings as well. For example, someone filing for divorce could ask the court for temporary custody of the children and a restraining order against the other spouse.
As with a DVPO, the person seeking a temporary restraining order must present compelling evidence at a hearing. The other side has a chance to refute the claims and challenge any temporary orders.
A DVPO and a temporary restraining order offer similar protections for individuals, but they are not interchangeable. Which one to consider filing for depends on the situation.