Vulnerable Adult Protection Orders
Many elderly and disabled people are particularly vulnerable to certain forms of abuse. For example, you may discover that a caregiver is abusing your disabled mother, or a jealous family member might serve you with a petition for a protection order because you are a helpful neighbor to an elderly person who has changed their will. Washington law provides for a vulnerable adult protection order that applies to people who are 60 or older and who are unable to perform self-care, have a guardian, have a developmental disability, live in a facility, receive services from home care or hospice services, or receive services from an individual care provider. Either the vulnerable adult or someone interested in keeping them safe may file a petition. Our Seattle civil protection order attorneys can assist them with this process.Understanding the Role of Vulnerable Adult Protection Orders
A protection order may stop a perpetrator from exploiting or abusing a vulnerable adult, prevent the alleged perpetrator from coming into the vulnerable adult's home, prevent contact by the alleged perpetrator with the vulnerable adult, require the alleged perpetrator to account for how they use resources or property owned by the vulnerable adult, or stop the alleged perpetrator from transferring property for up to 90 days.
Sometimes the alleged perpetrator has a power of attorney over the vulnerable adult, in which case the victim or their family will need to have the power of attorney revoked in addition to filing a petition for a protective order. Another issue that may need to be addressed is taking the name of the alleged perpetrator off jointly held bank accounts or property.
Someone seeking a vulnerable adult protection order is supposed to file a petition in the county where the vulnerable adult lives. However, if the vulnerable adult is somewhere else, due to abandonment, neglect, abuse, or other similar circumstances, the petitioner is allowed to petition in the county of either the prior or the current county of residence.
The petition will need to allege that the petitioner or vulnerable adult is a vulnerable adult as defined by the law, and they have been abused, financially exploited, neglected, abused, or threatened with these actions by the person or entity responding to the petition. It is necessary to file alongside the petition an affidavit under oath that sets forth the specific facts that show why a protection order should be issued. If you are an interested person filing on behalf of a vulnerable adult, you also need to provide a sworn affidavit about why you are an interested person. In certain cases, allegations of abuse are made improperly by someone seeking to gain power over a vulnerable adult, and if that is the case, attacking the facts in an affidavit of a purportedly interested person may be a defense against the protection order.
After a petition is filed for a vulnerable adult, they may be protected for 14 days before a hearing is held. Sometimes an alleged perpetrator is not served in time, which means that the judge may extend those 14 days. The hearing typically involves the submission of evidence and testimony by parties and witnesses. If a judge deems it appropriate, an order may be issued that lasts for up to five years.
A petition for a vulnerable adult protection order may be filed even if there is no pending lawsuit or action related to it. In other words, this petition may be filed even if the petitioner is not bringing an elder abuse lawsuit or another lawsuit for damages arising out of the claimed abuse.Retain an Experienced Civil Protection Order Lawyer in Seattle
Whether you are petitioning for or fighting against a vulnerable adult protection order in Washington, you should retain an attorney who understands every aspect of the situation and the law that applies to it. Our firm has a criminal defense attorney as well as a family law attorney, so unlike many Seattle firms, we can evaluate your whole case and strategize about how to handle it. We represent people throughout King County, including in Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue. Call us at (206) 622-6562 or contact us via our online form to set up an appointment. We also can assist you if you need a domestic violence lawyer or representation in seeking another type of civil protection order.