A permanent restraining order provides protection for victims of certain crimes, such as domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, harassment, stalking and other offenses. They are also quite common in divorce cases, especially where the divorce is based on a history of repeated abuse patterns.

A typical permanent restraining order may require the offender to:

  • Refrain from communicating with, or contacting the victim (either in person or through phone, mail, e-mail, online chats, etc.)
  • Stay a specified distance from the victim or areas where the victim is frequently found (such as home, school, or work areas)
  • Refrain from abusive and violent acts
  • Forfeit child custody and transfer custody to the other parent
  • Make monthly child support payments
  • Refrain from selling marital property
  • Surrender use of a family car solely to the victim

Permanent restraining orders are sometimes called “protective orders”, “order after a hearing”, or simply, “restraining order”. Unlike an emergency or temporary restraining order, permanent restraining orders usually go into effect only after a criminal or divorce trial is over (i.e., they are part of the final judgment of the trial). 

Permanent restraining orders may be enforceable anywhere from several weeks to many years, or for an indefinite period of time. A violation of a restraining order can result in criminal penalties, such as additional jail time or an order of contempt.

Can a Permanent Restraining Order Be Modified?

Certainly- at the request of the victim, permanent restraining orders can usually be extended, renewed, or modified with new provisions added. The petitioner would have to file a request with a judge, who will review the restraining order in light of any changed circumstances. If any children are involved in the restraining order, the judge will have to make determinations based on the child’s best interest standard.

Alternatively, the offender can sometimes request to have a restraining order modified.  This may be more difficult to do, and the offender may have to submit evidence that a modification would not place the victim(s) in any further danger. 

Can a Permanent Restraining Order Be Lifted?

In some cases, a permanent restraining order can be lifted (terminated), though again this may be very difficult to do. “Permanent” does not always mean that the restraining order is in effect forever.  Most of the time, “permanent” simply means that the restraining order is enforceable for the period of time ordered by the judge, unless a change is requested.

An offender who is subject to a permanent restraining order can file a request to have the order lifted.  They may need to supply evidence that they have been rehabilitated, such as completion of a counseling course. They may also need to obtain the consent of the victim and/or the victim’s children if they are involved. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Permanent Restraining Order?

Permanent restraining orders are a common aspect of many criminal trials.  They can provide much-needed protection for victims and for persons associated with the victim of a crime. You may wish to contact an experienced criminal lawyer in your area if you need help filing for a permanent restraining order. Or, if a restraining order has been filed against you, a lawyer can provide you with advice and representation on the matter.