File for a Protection Order

Read this in: Spanish / Español

This is a Washington Forms Online interview. Self-help court forms and instructions on LawHelp Interactive to file for a protection order. Completes forms for domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, anti-harassment, and vulnerable adult protection orders. (Available in English and Spanish.)

Service Interruption January 28-29

LawHelp Interactive (LHI) will be offline for maintenance and upgrades on Saturday and Sunday, January 28-29. This Washington Forms Online interview will be unavailable during that time. Thank you for your patience.

Quick Start

Launch InterviewStart Protection Order Interview

Washington Forms Online

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Introduction

This free program asks questions and uses your answers to complete your protection order forms. When you finish the interview, you can save, edit, email, download or print your completed forms. You will get instructions to help with your next steps.

You can answer questions and get instructions in English or Spanish. Your completed forms will be in English for the court.

Watch our How-To Video to see how it works.

  1. Instructions
  2. Petition for Protection Order (PO 001)
  3. Law Enforcement and Confidential Information (PO 003)
  4. Temporary Protection Order and Hearing Notice (PO 030)
  5. Protection Order (PO 040)

And other forms if needed, based on your answers. The completed forms will be in PDF format.

Your court forms will be in English, but you can do most of this interview in English or Spanish. In some places, you need to tell your story in your own words. Unfortunately, you must answer those questions in English. If you have to, answer in Spanish for now and ask for help with translation later.

You can choose bilingual (Spanish/English) or English-only instructions.

Learn More

You can ask the court for a protection order if you are experiencing or have recently experienced domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault, or you are seeking protection for a vulnerable adult.

Read Protection Orders: Can the Civil Legal System Help Protect Me to learn more or if you are still not sure if you need a protection order.

If you are an adult (age 18 or older), you can protect:

  • Yourself
  • You can also ask to protect children under age 18 (minor children) if you are their parent, legal guardian, or custodian. 
  • or another adult who is vulnerable or cannot otherwise file for themself.

For domestic violence, you can also protect:

  • Minor children in your family or household, even if you are not the parent, legal guardian, or custodian.
  • Vulnerable adults in your family or household.

If you are 15 - 17, you can protect:

  • Yourself
  • Minor children in your family or household, if the minor chooses you to file on their behalf. You must be capable of pursuing what the minor says they want or need out of the case (their “stated interest”).

If you are under age 15, someone must file for you.

You can ask for different kinds of protection orders based on the type of harm and how the parties know each other. The judge may give you a different type of protection order if you do not qualify for your first choice.

This form covers 5 types of protection orders:

1. Domestic Violence

For protection from a current or former intimate partner, family member, or roommate who does any of these:

  • Harms you physically, including sexual assault
  • Causes you to fear immediate physical harm or assault
  • Stalks you, including online (cyberstalking)
  • Engages in behavior that causes you physical, emotional, or psychological harm, and unreasonably interferes with your free will and personal liberty (coercive control)

These are a few examples of "coercive control":

  • Driving recklessly with you and/or the children in the vehicle to scare and force you to do what the person wants you to do over your own wishes
  • Threatening to kill themselves if you don’t stay in the relationship with them
  • Telling your friends and family that they are going to destroy your career or report you to immigration because you are ending the relationship
  • Threatening to blackmail you

You can read the law to see more examples at RCW 7.105.010(37).

2. Harassment

For protection against someone whose behavior seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses you, with no legitimate purpose. RCW 7.105.010(35).

3. Sexual Assault

For protection against someone who has raped you or engaged in any sexual conduct or penetration that you did not freely agree to (nonconsensual). Read the law at RCW 7.105.100(b) to learn more.

4. Stalking

For protection against someone who is committing criminal stalking or any repeated contacts or attempts to contact you, monitor you, track your whereabouts, keep you under observation, or follow you, if the behavior intimidates, scares or threatens you. RCW 7.105.010(34)

Criminal stalking is when all these are true:

  • Someone intentionally harasses or follows you.
  • You have a reasonable fear that they want to hurt someone (it does not have to be you), or someone’s property (it does not have to be yours).
  • The stalker knows or should know that they are frightening, intimidating, or harassing you.

If this describes your situation, call the police.

5. Vulnerable Adult

Read Protecting elders and vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect to learn more. That fact sheet also talks about other options for vulnerable adults besides protection orders.

You can ask the court to order the restrained person to surrender their weapons immediately, at the same time the judge issues the temporary order. In your petition, describe the weapons with as much detail as possible. This helps law enforcement know if all weapons are accounted for.


Safety alert! If the judge issues an Order to Surrender and Prohibit Weapons, the restrained person must immediately surrender their firearms to law enforcement when they are served. If that does not happen for some reason, this could increase your level of risk. A domestic violence or other advocate can help you do safety planning around this issue. You may call 911 to report if you believe the restrained person still has weapons.

After you file your petition, there are at least three steps.

Step 1: Petition and Temporary Order. A judge will review your petition and any evidence you filed along with it to see if you meet the requirements for any type of protection order. You may have to appear at the temporary order hearing. This should happen the same day you file, or the next working court day if you file later in the day or when the court is closed. If you meet the legal requirements, the judge will schedule a full hearing. The judge may also issue a temporary order.

Step 2: Service. Law enforcement will serve the protection order papers on the restrained person for free. In some situations, you can make your own arrangements for service. The restrained person must be served at least 5 court days before the full hearing.

Step 3: Full Hearing. At the full hearing, the judge will decide whether to issue a final Protection Order. Usually a final Protection Order lasts for at least a year. You can ask for a shorter or longer order, based on your needs, in the petition.

If law enforcement is serving, you can register your protection order with WA Protective Order Service. This free, automated service lets you know when an order has been served. Call 1-877-242-4055 or visit www.registervpo.com to learn more.

If the restrained person has not been served, but you still want or need the temporary order, you must appear for the hearing and ask for an extension (a continuance) of the temporary order.


Safety Alert! Even if you have a temporary protection order, you must continue to take steps for you and your children to remain safe, especially around the time the order is served.

Make some notes to yourself about the main points to make when it is your turn to talk at the full hearing. You may have no more than 5 minutes to speak.

If your hearing is in person, get to the courthouse early. If possible, do not bring your children. Getting Ready for a Court Hearing or Trial has more tips.

If your hearing is by phone or video, read Tips for Phone and Video Hearings to learn more.

If you do not appear at your full hearing, the judge will dismiss your temporary order. If you know in advance that you cannot make the full hearing, contact the court clerk to see about rescheduling.

The restrained person can go to the full hearing. If the restrained person does not show up, but was properly served at least 5 court days before the full hearing, the judge can go ahead without the restrained person.

If the restrained person shows up for the full hearing, the court will let each of you speak, and then make a decision.

If the restrained person has not been served 5 court days before your full hearing, you must still go to the hearing if you want the temporary protection order extended to allow time for service.

Even if the respondent didn’t get 5 court days’ notice but was served with the order, you may contact the police to enforce the order if there are any violations.

Witnesses do not usually testify at protection order hearings. Witnesses can file a declaration form describing what they saw or heard. Have any witnesses use the Declaration form, PO 018

You must file witness declarations and any other documents you want the judge to consider with the court clerk and have the restrained person served with a copy before the hearing date. If the restrained person does not get these copies beforehand, the court may reschedule the hearing to give everyone time to read them. The reverse is also true: the restrained person must provide you with copies of anything they file. You have the same right to ask for more time to review copies of anything served on you at the last minute.

Before You Start

We strongly recommend you talk with a domestic violence or sexual assault advocate if you are being hurt, threatened or stalked. Advocates can help with safety concerns and with the protection order process. You can ask an advocate to review the forms you make with this interview.

Firearms and domestic violence are a dangerous combination. If the abuser has access to firearms or has threatened suicide, please talk to an advocate about making a safety plan.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE. Find local domestic violence programs in Washington state at WSCADV.org.

Find local sexual assault programs in Washington state at WCSAP.org

Filing for a protection order starts a court process that requires you to be at court for hearings and get ready for hearings by submitting evidence (proof). You may be able to go to your court hearing online or by phone.

You will need to tell your story so the judge understands why you need protection. Gather documents that help prove your story so you can file them with your petition. You can use police reports, text messages, emails, pictures, medical records, and so on.

Your abuser will get a copy of everything you show the judge. Your paperwork is also generally available to the public for anyone to see. You can black out (redact) sensitive information like your home address and account numbers.

This interview works best on a desktop computer, laptop, or large tablet. If you only have a mobile device, try to go to a library or other location with a desktop computer and printer. In most counties, you must print your forms to file them in court.   

Your documents will download as PDF files. You can email your forms directly from LawHelp Interactive to yourself or someone else who can print them for you.

It could take 30 to 60 minutes to get through the interview. If you do not have enough time to finish, save your answers by creating a free account with LawHelp Interactive. You can create an account before you start or after you finish the interview.

Start now

Launch InterviewStart Protection Order Interview

Washington Forms Online

Link takes you to a separate website.

 

If you do not want to fill these out online, download our printable packet.

Disclaimer:  This program is designed to follow current law. It does not apply legal principles and judgment to anyone's specific circumstances.

Last Review and Update: Jan 02, 2023
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