When a parent asks the court for a protection order to keep their children safe, the court might refuse to include all of the children. Can you believe that??
This is exactly what happened to Jose, who asked the court for a protection order to limit his ex-wife’s contact with their three children. She had assaulted their nine-year-old daughter in the presence of the other siblings, leaving all three children in fear of their mother. Instead of granting a one-year protection order to keep them all safe, the court protected only the nine-year-old, and only for four months. The court further instructed Jose—a single parent who does not speak English, has physical disabilities, and is in school—to go back to court during those four months to get a new parenting plan. No protections were granted to the other two children, and their mother was able to continue having unsupervised visits with them.
This is not justice—not for Jose, and not for his kids. We joined with our friends at the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence to file a “friend of the court” brief. We argued that short-term domestic violence protection orders undermine the intention of the law: to provide quick, accessible protection to survivors before further abuse can happen. Last week, the Court of Appeals agreed with us and reversed the decision.
We are pleased with this positive result for Jose, and are honored to have played a role in righting this injustice. But we know Jose’s experience is one of many, and that our courts far too often leave survivors and their families without protection.
That’s why we also stand with Esmeralda, who experienced severe violence at the hand of her former partner. She immediately sought a protection order for herself and her kids, who were in the house during the attack. The court granted the order protecting her and her older children, but refused to include her two-year-old son because he “was asleep during the attack” and therefore “had nothing to do with” the situation.
We can’t let that ridiculous notion stand. So we’re urging the Washington State Supreme Court to reverse the decision and affirm that when a parent is a victim of domestic violence, her kids are entitled to be protected, too.
Simply put, parents should be able to use the law to protect their children from abuse. Legal Voice is committed to righting these wrongs and standing up for people who are given empty promises of protection.
Together, we can undo this trend in Washington that leaves so many survivors with less than what they need. Are you with us?
– Read our Washington Supreme Court brief in support of Esmeralda and her children