What Is a Restraining Order?
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What Is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is a type of court order that restricts a person from committing certain acts. They are commonly issued in connection with various family law proceedings, especially those that involve divorce, domestic violence, abuse, and child custody/visitation.
Restraining orders can include a wide range of terms and provisions. They commonly impose restrictions such as:
- Prohibiting a party from physically contacting, communicating with, or attempting to communicate with another person (such as prohibiting the defendant from communicating with the victim)
- Prohibiting the person from coming within a certain distance of a victim (such as 15 feet; commonly known as a “stay-away order”)
- Limiting the days, hours and times that a parent can see or visit with a child
- Placing restrictions on the person’s property (as in a divorce, when the opposite party’s funds are frozen for legal purposes)
The rules governing restraining orders will vary from state to state, and also according to the needs of the party that is requesting the protection. Restraining orders can either be temporary or permanent. There are also emergency orders that can be obtained very quickly if the plaintiff is in immediate danger.
How Do I Obtain a Restraining Order?
This will depend on the type of restraining order being sought. Usually, restraining orders are filed for at the beginning of a trial such as a divorce or custody hearing. Permanent restraining orders are issued once the trial is completed and all the evidence is weighed by the court.
In some cases, more immediate protection is needed, especially if the person is facing an immediate risk of physical harm. In such cases, it may be possible to file for a temporary restraining order, or an emergency order, as these can be issued relatively quickly. While they still need evidence in support of the order, they can sometimes be issued “ex parte”, or without the defendant being present during the hearing.
Can a Restraining Order Be Lifted?
In some cases, it is possible to have a restraining order lifted even after it has been issued. This usually requires the person to submit a petition with the court to have the order lifted or cancelled, or to have the dates changed on the order (for example, to have it enforced for a shorter period of time).
Such determinations may be entirely discretional, meaning that it’s up to the judge to determine whether it’s appropriate to have the restraining order lifted. This may require a consideration of many different factors, such as:
- Whether there is still a risk of harm to the plaintiff
- Whether the plaintiff and all the affected parties consent to the decision
- Whether the defendant will suffer extreme hardship if the order isn’t lifted
Also, some restraining orders expire automatically after a short period of time, such as temporary or emergency orders. If that’s the case, the plaintiff should be aware of the expiration date, and file for an extension if they think this is necessary.
Violations of restraining orders can lead to severe legal consequences, such as court fines, possible jail time, and loss of custody rights.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Restraining Order?
If you have any questions, legal inquiries, or disputes over a restraining order, it’s in your best interest to hire an experienced lawyer. Your lawyer can provide you with immediate legal advice and representation when it comes to complex issues like restraining orders. The laws on restraining orders may vary by state, so be sure to inquire with your attorney if you have any specific questions.
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Last Modified: 01-14-2014 10:15 AM PST
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