How to get a restraining order dropped

Updated March 23, 2017

When a person is being harassed or abused, she can petition a court to issue a "restraining order" against the harasser. This means that the harasser is legally forbidden from approaching or contacting the petitioner. If the harasser violates the terms of the restraining order, he can be arrested and jailed. Getting rid of a restraining order before its date of expiration is very difficult, as the order is designed to resist easy application and removal. While the removal process is arduous for the petitioner, it is doubly challenging for the harasser.

File a petition with the judge to have the order removed. Often you will benefit from having an attorney experienced in restraining orders prepare the petition for you.

The judge will usually grant a hearing for you to explain why you wish to have the petition removed. Argue either that your relationship with the victim has changed or that you believe that your original request for an order was without merit.

You may need to agree to several additional stipulations before the removal is granted. A judge may want you to promise to call the police if you are again harassed. A victim's rights advocate may ask to speak with you about your reasons for wishing the petition lifted. A district attorney may ask the judge not to list the order for your own safety.

First, hire excellent legal counsel. In nearly all cases, restraining orders are designed to be enormously difficult for the person whom they are issued against to have them removed, as a way of protecting the petitioner from reprisal. An attorney, particularly one experienced in criminal law or, if the petitioner is a relative, domestic law would be particularly useful.

File an appeal with a judge arguing that the restraining order is frivolous. Depending on the state and the jurisdiction in which the restraining order was filed, you will either file the appeal with the judge who originally issued the order or to a new judge.

If the judge agrees to a hearing over the restraining order, attend it and argue that the order was improperly applied. This can be based either on the fact that the evidence presented to obtain the order was false or otherwise without merit or that the order did not meet the legal statute set forth for its issuance.


Regardless of how the attitudes of the harasser and the petitioner change, a restraining order is still in effect until it has expired or a judge has ordered it removed. This means that the harasser can still be charged for violating a restraining order, even if the petitioner is not the one issuing the complaint. For example, if a wife is granted a restraining order against her husband and, later, the couple reconciles, the husband can still be reported as in violation of the restraining and punished.

Things You'll Need

  • attorney specialising in family or criminal law
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About the Author

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.