How Can I Vacate a Restraining Order?

How Can I Vacate a Restraining Order?

Restraining orders can sometimes remain in effect for several years. In some cases, this duration of protection is unnecessary. Fortunately, a final restraining order can be either dismissed or modified by the court if both parties to the order show good cause for the dismissal. Vacating the order would allow both parties to go back to living their lives free from the restrictions. But even if the victim and the defendant agree that the restraining order is no longer needed and that there is no longer a risk of violence, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be vacated. In fact, the process of vacating a restraining order can be complicated and involves several steps.

First, a motion must be filed with the court that issued the order. If the abuser files it, which is sometimes referred to as a Carfagno motion, he or she will need to show good cause. Good cause is defined as a legally sufficient reason for the relief sought by the petitioner. To establish good cause, the court will consider the following factors:

  • Whether the victim consented to have the order vacated
  • Whether the victim fears the restrained person (i.e. the defendant) (this is a critical factor)
  • The present nature of the relationship between the parties
  • How many times the defendant was convicted of contempt for violating the order
  • Whether the defendant has continuing substance abuse issues
  • Whether the defendant has been involved in other acts of violence
  • Whether the victim has gone through counseling or therapy
  • The age and health of the defendant
  • If the victim is opposing the vacation of the order, whether he or she is acting in good faith
  • Whether another jurisdiction had issued a different restraining order, and
  • Any other factors relevant to the case

You do not necessarily need to establish all these factors, but some matter more than others. Both parties to the order must consent to vacate the order, show a genuine reconciliation and demonstrate that there is no longer a need for legal protection. The same judge who issued the order must vacate it. A judge other than the judge who issued the order may vacate the order if he or she has complete records of the original order proceedings. If vacated, a record of the order will still exist, but the order will not longer be valid.

If you want to vacate a restraining order, first consult with an experienced New Jersey matrimonial attorney. An attorney can advise you on the process for petitioning the court and help you step by step. You must have good cause for seeking a vacation of a restraining order, and an attorney can help you demonstrate this to the court so you can move on with your life free from the restrictions of a restraining order.

Do you have questions about restraining orders? Williams Law Group, LLC can advise you of your rights and protect your best interests every step of the way. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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