Legal Voice joined with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV) to submit an amicus brief in Leavitt v. Leavitt, an appeal that challenges court practices that affect the safety of domestic violence survivors throughout Washington. The case concerns the proper interpretation of Washington’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA), which enables domestic violence survivors to obtain protection orders to stop abusers from having contact with them or their children.
Earlier this year, Brandy Leavitt sought a domestic violence protection order in Grays Harbor Superior Court for herself and her children after her husband assaulted her and her daughter. Instead of issuing a one-year protection order—which is the standard minimum term of such an order under the DVPA—the judge limited the protection order to a brief 60 days. The judge told Ms. Leavitt she’d need to “work it out” with her husband by pursuing a divorce case.
Our brief argues that these court practices are contrary to the DVPA and endanger domestic violence survivors. Tracing the language and legislative history of the law, we explained that domestic violence protection orders should be issued for at least one year and that the law does not permit survivors to be forced to pursue a divorce in order to protect themselves and their children from abusers. Our brief also demonstrated why domestic violence protection orders are so important in protecting survivors and their children from further abuse.
Special thanks to Judy Endejan and Colleen Hannigan of Garvey Schubert Barer for serving as cooperating counsel for this brief for Legal Voice and WSCADV, and to the Northwest Justice Project for representing Ms. Leavitt.