Domestic Violence Protection Orders and Shifting Child Custody

Protection orders can dramatically change family life in the blink of an eye.  A temporary protection order can be served out of the blue and a parent can be totally removed from the family home and denied any access to their kids. 

The temporary care, custody and control of the children goes to the parent who got the protection order.

In King County, if you file for a protection order on Wednesday, you may have a hearing that day or on Thursday. By Thursday or Friday, the other parent is out.  All the removed parent may have is the clothes on their back and a few things they can grab while the police are there.

If you are the abused parent seeking protection for yourself and the children, this can be a tremendous relief.

If you are the restrained parent, it can be one of the most painful surprises that can ever happen to you.  It can be the beginning of a long battle to get back in your children’s lives.

Even if the restrained parent has not been abusive to the child, by law, the children can be considered victims of domestic violence, and they can be included in a protection order.

A Temporary Protection Order Common Terms

A few of the common and lawful restrictions of a temporary protection order are:

  •       No contact whatsoever with the protected parent (aka Petitioner).
  •       Leave the family home and stay 1,000 feet away.
  •       No contact with the children – even if they are not victims.
  •       No contact with the children’s school, daycare and other places they go.

The Petitioner is given temporary care, custody, and control of the children.

The temporary order is only good for 14 days or until the hearing on the “full protection order.”  If the other parent hasn’t been served, the temporary protection order doesn’t go away. It can be extended until the other parent has been served.

Limited Contact with Kids While a Protection Order is in Place.

Even though a judge can order a parent to have no contact whatsoever with their own kids, there can be exceptions to allow parent and child to continue their relationship.

A judge can make exceptions, although they are usually limited.  Examples of exceptions for contact with kids:

  •       Remote visits through FaceTime or similar
  •       Supervised visits with an agreed friend or family member (called “lay supervision”)
  •       Professionally supervised visits (with a paid supervisor)
  •       In person visits on certain days – with a start and end time
  •       In person visits limited to a specific location

A parent can be limited for a year.

A “full protection” order can be one year long entered against parents.  That means the care, custody, and control of the children to only one parent for a full year.  And restricted contact with the kids.

After one year, it might not be over. The order can be renewed for another full year if a judge agrees that the restrained person will commit acts of domestic violence.

It’s very important to always respond to petitions for protection orders, petitions for renewal and to be on top of your protection order case.

Changes to a protection order can be made so you can see your kids.

The judge will usually make the protection order include whatever orders there are in a family law case. If the family law case gives you more time and access to your kids, that can be an exception to the protection order. But it must be written into the protection order!

Also, the judge will often order domestic violence treatment, parenting class, substance abuse treatment or some kind of treatment or evaluation.  If progress with any of those things is made, then you can ask for more time with your kids.

But treatment and classes can be burdensome and take time, so it’s not an easy or quick way to get back into the children’s lives.

Because the care and custody of the children is at stake for as long as a year or more, the legal situation of restraining a parent or responding to a petition must be done in a skillful way.

An attorney who can help you needs to help you advocate for the needs of your children and your parental rights and needs too.

Protection orders are high-stakes adversarial proceedings and they quickly and majorly impact the family.

Parental rights in protection order cases should be handled by an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the protection order courts.  At Burke Brown Attorneys, we are experienced at representing parents involved in protection order proceedings.  Please call or text us if you need help.


Phone (206) 933-2414

Text (206) 895-9283

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