How to Stop a Restraining Order

Written by rebecca rogge
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How to Stop a Restraining Order
Restraining orders are issued by judges and are legally binding. (gavel image by Cora Reed from

Restraining orders are issued by judges following a court hearing and are intended to protect victims of abuse and harassment from further violence and harm at the hands of an abuser. There are three parties who can attempt to stop a restraining order. A judge can stop a restraining order if he does not believe the plaintiff has adequately demonstrated a need for protection. A plaintiff can let a temporary restraining order expire or file to dismiss an active restraining order. The respondent can appear in court and contest the order by demonstrating that the plaintiff does not need protection.

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    Allow a temporary restraining order to expire. If the plaintiff in a restraining order wishes to stop the order, the simplest way to stop a temporary restraining order is to simply allow it to expire. While lengths vary by state, temporary restraining orders are rarely effective for more than 30 days, and in many places for as little as seven. No action is required to allow a temporary restraining order to expire; simply fail to apply for a permanent order and it will become null and void.

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    Contest a restraining order by testifying against it in a full court hearing. The full hearing is the respondent's opportunity to have a restraining order stopped. If she can convince the judge that the allegations are false and a restraining order is unwarranted, the judge will overturn it. The best defence may include witness testimony, written communication, police or medical records and anything else supporting the respondent claim that a restraining order is unjustified. Legal assistance can also be invaluable for a respondent seeking to overturn a restraining order.

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    File a motion to dismiss the restraining order. If a restraining order has been issued and the plaintiff decides he is no longer in need of protection, he may file a motion to dismiss the order with the court clerk in the court where the restraining order was initially issued. The clerk can provide the forms, and the plaintiff will typically need to appear before the judge. The judge will hear a statement and determine whether the plaintiff is being coerced or threatened into dropping the order. If the judge agrees the plaintiff no longer needs protection, she will overturn the order.

Tips and warnings

  • Restraining orders are legally binding on both the plaintiff and the respondent. The plaintiff cannot authorise the respondent to break any portion of the order and if the respondent does so, even with the plaintiff's permission, he may be held in contempt of court, fined or jailed, depending on local statutes.

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