Washington State Civil Protection Order Against Someone Who Lives Out of State

There are instances when an individual needs to obtain a civil protection order against someone who does not live in Washington state, whether it be an anti-harassment, stalking, or domestic violence protection order.  There are numerous different scenarios under RCW 7.105.080 which will allow jurisdiction over someone who is not a resident of Washington State.  For example, if the individual is personally served a copy of the petition while in Washington or the individual appears at their hearing (whether in person or remotely) and does not object to the personal jurisdiction.  

The most common situations which gives rise to a Washington State protection order involving someone who lives outside of the state involve acts which cross state lines.  An example would be someone who lives out of state making threatening phone calls, emails, texts, etc., to an individual living in Washington State. This would allow personal jurisdiction under RCW 7.105.080(1)(c).  There are also more convoluted circumstances involving acts which took place completely outside of the state where there could be personal jurisdiction.  If the acts took place outside of the state but are a part of an ongoing pattern that adversely effects the petitioner or their family/household who reside in Washington or because of the acts, the petitioner or their family/household has sought safety in Washington State and currently reside in Washington, then personal jurisdiction is a possibility.  However, the key detail under these circumstances is there must have been some form of communication with the petitioner or their family while they reside in Washington State.  If all of the acts took place outside of the state but then all forms of communication stopped once the individual moved to Washington State, the facts may not be sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction.  RCW 7.105.080(1)(d). 

Previously, service of respondents who lived out of state was particularly challenging as it had to be accomplished by personal service (i.e. personally handing the documents to the respondent.)  However, due to the pandemic, service laws have changed and there are opportunities to serve the respondent electronically which makes it a lot easier to serve an individual who lives out of state – especially if you do not know where they live or if they are attempting to avoid service. RCW 7.105.150.

Whether you are thinking of filing a protection order against someone who lives outside of Washington or you have just been served a Washington State petition and you do not live within the state, it is important to consult a Washington State attorney (especially if you are the respondent.)  You have rights that you might not be aware of and it is imperative that you work with an attorney prior to doing anything otherwise you risk waiving (losing) certain rights or risk making your case exponentially more difficult to win.