Fighting an order of protection (also known as a restraining order) is difficult; as they are protective measures for people who were already victimized, the court takes them very seriously. Once a protection order is issued, the court ultimately has the authority to decide whether it should stay in place. Even if the plaintiff—the person who originally requested the order—files a motion to dismiss, the judge may decide to keep the protection order in place for the plaintiff's continued safety. However, it is possible for a respondent in a protection order case to successfully fight it.
Do not violate any portion of a temporary protection order. Usually the first time a respondent hears about a protection order against him is when it is served on him by a professional server or law enforcement; the order is not enforceable or effective until he has been properly served. You must carefully adhere to the terms of the temporary protection order as long as it is in effect, even if you plan to fight it.
Temporary protection orders are issued as a short-term protective solution. They protect the applicant, based solely on her claim that she needs protection, until the court has sufficient time to schedule a hearing at which both parties may present their cases for and against the protection order. Once the judge hears both sides of the story, he will decide whether to turn the temporary protection order into a permanent protection order.
Gather evidence and retain a lawyer as you prepare for the hearing, which is typically held anywhere from one week to thirty days following the plaintiff's application for a protection order. This hearing is the respondent's first opportunity to fight the protection order. Relevant evidence can include witness testimony, police or medical reports, and written communication. You must attempt to demonstrate that the plaintiff is not actually in need of protection from you. Attend the hearing and present your case clearly, accurately, and descriptively to the judge. The judge will then decide whether or not to issue a permanent protection order to keep the applicant safe from you long-term.
If the judge decides at the hearing to issue a protection order against you, you may continue to fight it by filing a Motion to Dismiss. Here, the process varies widely from state to state. Often, you must file paperwork supplying information about why you think the protection order is unwarranted. The court will then set a date for another hearing, at which both parties will again present their cases.
Some states have restrictions on how long a permanent protection order must be in place before the respondent is permitted to contest it again. For more specific information, visit the courthouse where the protection order was issued, or a lawyer. Information is also often made available on the state or county's District Attorney, sheriff, or court websites.
- gavel image by Cora Reed from Fotolia.com