In general, a restraining order is an order issued by a court that instructs a party to do or to refrain from doing a certain action. Restraining orders can be either temporary or permanent.

A temporary restraining order usually goes into effect immediately after it is issued and only lasts for a short period of time (usually 5 to 15 days). The purpose of a temporary restraining order is to prevent any harm from occurring before an official hearing can be held.

In contrast, a permanent restraining order lasts for longer periods of time and can be put into effect for as many as several weeks to years, and in some instances, for an indefinite amount of time. They are often used as a means of protection for victims of certain crimes, such as domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, harassment, stalking, and other offenses.

They are also fairly common in divorce cases, especially when the divorce is based on a history of recurring abuse patterns.

The terms of a permanent restraining order typically require an offender to obey the following conduct:

  • Refrain from communicating with or contacting the victim (including both in person and via phone, mail, e-mail, social media channels, etc.);
  • Stay a specified distance away from a victim or away from areas where the victim is frequently located (such as home, school, or work environments);
  • Stop actions of abuse or violence towards the victim;
  • Forfeit child custody and transfer custodial rights to the other parent;
  • Make monthly child support payments;
  • Prevent them from selling marital property; and
  • Surrender use of a family car and hand over the keys to the victim.

In addition, a permanent restraining order can sometimes be referred to as a “protective order”, an “order after a hearing”, or simply a “restraining order.” Unlike an emergency or a temporary restraining order, a permanent restraining order usually will go into effect only after the criminal or divorce trial has ended. In other words, they become a part of the final judgment issued in the trial.

Finally, a party who violates a restraining order can face criminal penalties, such as having to serve additional jail time, being required to pay fines, or receiving a contempt of court citation.

Can a Permanent Restraining Order be Modified?

It is possible to modify a permanent restraining order. Permanent restraining orders can usually be extended, renewed, or modified with additional provisions at the request of the victim.

The petitioner would have to file a request with a judge who will then review the restraining order in light of any changed circumstances. If any children are included in or associated with the restraining order, the judge will have to make their determination based on the child’s best interest standard.

In some cases, the offender may also be able to request to have the restraining order modified. However, this is much more difficult to do than if the victim is the one requesting it. The offender will most likely have to submit evidence that a modification would not place the other party in any further danger.

Can a Permanent Restraining Order be Lifted?

Although it may be a challenge, there are also some cases where a permanent restraining order may be lifted or terminated. The reason for this is because the term “permanent” does not necessarily mean that the restraining order will be enforceable forever.

In most instances, permanent simply means that the restraining order will be enforceable for the specified period of time that is mandated by the court or until a party requests a change.

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

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with My Permanent Restraining Order?

Permanent restraining orders are frequently issued at the end of many criminal trials. They can provide the protection that is necessary for victims of a crime or other persons associated with the case.

Thus, if you need help with filing for a permanent restraining order or have any questions about one, then you may want to speak to a qualified criminal defense lawyer who is located in your area. Alternatively, if a restraining order has been filed against you, then you should strongly consider contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

In either situation, a lawyer will be able to provide legal advice, can guide you through each process, argue on your behalf (e.g., for or against an order), and provide further representation in court on the matter. A lawyer can also assist you with the procedures that are required for removing or modifying a permanent restraining order.