Prussak v. Prussak (No. 57233-8-II) Published Opinion
Appellant Mr. Prussak appealed the renewal of a domestic violence protection order (DVPO) against him. The trial court found that Mr. Prussak failed to prove a substantial change in circumstances or that his acts of domestic violence would not resume. Mr. Prussak argued that the trial court abused its discretion by characterizing his electronic monitoring behavior as potentially stalking, and also considering evidence of his ongoing coercive control in the family law matter.
The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s findings and conclusions. Importantly, the Opinion clarifies that post-separation behaviors are indeed relevant when considering whether an individual with a history of domestic violence will resume acts of abuse. These post-separation acts of coercive control, including electronic monitoring of the survivor, are relevant when a trial court decides whether to renew a protection order. The Opinion additionally confirms that even under the new protection order statutory framework, the burden of proof is on the restrained party, not the petitioner, in a DVPO renewal. Finally, the Opinion provides examples of when a restrained party’s behavior does not demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances—thus the DVPO should be renewed.
These points collectively demonstrate the benefits of the case in providing clarity and guidance in deciding DVPO renewals and enhancing the safety of survivors of domestic violence.
A special thank you to FVAP Washington’s Summer Law Clerks, Brook Purtill and Michael Savell. FVAP would also like to thank Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, the Northwest Justice Project, and Tacomaprobono Community Lawyers for their partnership in co-signing this motion.