Legal How-To: Fighting a Restraining Order

By Brett Snider, Esq. on May 27, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Having to fight a restraining order is no walk in the park, but with the right legal preparation, it doesn't have to be a nightmare.

It can also be infuriating. But you can fight a restraining order without having to lose your cool. Follow these simple legal steps for how to fight a restraining order.

Receive Notice of Order & Remain Calm

Depending on your circumstances, you may receive a notice of your restraining order either by mail, personal service (i.e. "you've been served"), or in court.

If you're in court, do not scream, yell, curse, or do anything else disrespectful -- like give the judge the finger. Losing your cool will only serve to make a bad situation worse.

Contact Your Attorney

Depending on the nature of your restraining order, you may need a different kind of attorney:

  • Criminal. For any restraining order which relates to a criminal investigation or charge, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney.
  • Divorce. If your restraining order is related to a legal separation or divorce, contact a divorce attorney.
  • Civil. For all other civil restraining orders, contact a civil litigation attorney.

These attorneys can examine the terms of your restraining order and explain what they mean.

File a Timely Response to Order

With your attorney's help, you should file a response to the restraining order before your hearing date. Some courts will provide a form for your official response to the restraining order, and your attorney can point you toward the correct form.

Comply With the Order

While you await your hearing on the restraining order, make sure to abide by its rules. This may mean:

  • No personal, telephonic, or electronic contact with listed persons,
  • Staying within ___ feet of listed persons or locations,
  • Refraining from contact with relatives and children of listed persons, and
  • Inability to purchase a firearm.

Don't violate these rules or you may be slapped with a contempt of court charge.

Prepare for and Attend Hearing

Work with your attorney to prepare for your hearing. Gather up your copy of your filed response, the restraining order, and any other relevant documents you wish to use in your argument.

Be early, be polite, don't interrupt others, and speak slowly, and you will survive your day in court.

If the judge rules in your favor, you will have successfully fought a restraining order.

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