If you have ever had to get a restraining order against someone, then you know just how essential they can be. But what happens if you want to get a domestic violence protection order lifted? In this blog, learn how to drop a restraining order in North Carolina. We’ll also look at other options to keep you and your loved ones safe.

How Can a Victim Get a Restraining Order Lifted?

When you’re a victim of domestic violence, it’s essential to take measures to protect yourself and your loved ones. One way to do this is by working with law enforcement to obtain a restraining order against the person causing you harm.

But what if you file a domestic violence protection order (50B or DVPO) and then want the order lifted?

Before the Permanent Order Hearing: Removing the Restraining Order 

If your temporary restraining order court date has not occurred, you may request to dismiss the restraining order. Before the permanent order hearing, you may file a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal (AOC-CV-405).

After the Permanent Hearing: Removing the Restraining Order 

If you want to drop a permanent domestic violence restraining order, you’ll need to file a motion to dismiss. You’ll file your motion to dismiss at the court that issued your DVPO.

To dismiss a permanent restraining order, you can file a Motion To Renew or Set Aside Protective Order (AOC-CV-313) with the clerk. This will set up a hearing before the judge, who will choose whether or not to grant your motion to set the order aside.

At this point, the judge who issued the original DVPO may want to discuss your reasons for letting the order go.

Losing Protection From Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

A domestic violence protective order gives you many protections that you and any children will lose if the court clerk grants your motion to dismiss the restraining order.

Protections often include a no-contact order. The provisions also include that the person committing domestic abuse can’t commit the following acts.

  • Assault, threaten, abuse, follow, harass (by telephone, visiting the home or workplace, or other means), or interfere with you or any children. If you reconcile during the life of the order, you may request that the court allow contact, but keep the no-abuse provisions in the order.
  • Ordered to make no contact and stay away from work, daycare, any childrens’ school, your school.
  • Make payments to you for the support of the minor children as required by law. “In addition to fear of retaliation and further abuse, economic concerns are among the primary reasons victims stay in abusive relationships.”
  • Prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms. If they are a law enforcement officer or a member of the armed services, a court may or may not allow firearms for official use. (2)

Will the Court Drop Restraining Orders in My Circumstances?

Before deciding about restraining orders that may affect a protected person, the clerk will likely try to find out what you believe about the following:

  • As a protected party, can you explain your reasons for wanting to drop the restraining order against the other party?
  • Do you think filing the restraining order was enough to stop the violence?
  • In your thought process, do you think dropping the restraining order will protect you from violence and direct retaliation from the defendant?
  • Do you feel threatened or pressured to drop the restraining order you filed? Who is pressuring you and why?
  • Do you understand that child custody and visitation conditions may change if you drop the restraining order?
  • Will you consider a recommendation that you see a domestic violence advocate or counselor to talk about your reasons for wanting to drop the restraining order?
  • Do you understand that children exposed to domestic violence can suffer serious and long-lasting effects?
  • If you drop this restraining order, would you want to keep certain safety-related provisions in place? This allows you to remove the no-contact provision but keep no-abuse legal paperwork in place!
  • Do you understand that if you drop the restraining order, the defendant can regain certain rights, including re-obtaining their firearms? (1)
  • Do you understand that the court will note any civil or criminal domestic violence actions related to either you or the other party?

Courts may drop the protective order if you have valid reasons for your request. The outcome depends on how you present your case to drop the restraining order.

There are serious consequences for dropping restraining order protections. So the clerk may require proof that you understand what dropping the restraining order will mean for you.

Working with an experienced family law attorney can ensure your motion to drop the order gives you the best outcome. A knowledgeable DVPO attorney can also help ensure that the no-abuse provisions of the order stay in place while allowing contact to resume.

What About Criminal Charges?

If the abusive person has criminal charges pending and you drop the restraining order, their criminal case continues. You cannot reduce or dismiss criminal charges against the other party for any legal violation.

Whether their criminal charge brings jail time, loss of employment as a state employee, or fines and probation, you are not responsible for the consequences they face. If the state has collected evidence of harassment or other violations, criminal complaints will likely continue to move forward.

Not Sure What to Do?

It is normal to feel ambivalent about seeking protection from domestic violence. You may feel like pursuing a protective order from the court will hurt your relationship with the defendant.

However, for your protection, talk with someone who has experience with domestic violence situations and can help you see the reality of your position now. Learn more at the National Domestic Violence Hotline site or call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or TTY 1.800.787.3224. You can also find help at the North Carolina Domestic Violence Coalition.

Seek Legal Representation

Without an experienced DVPO-focused family law attorney on your side, the domestic violence pattern of power, control, intimidation, and violence may diminish your ability to advocate for yourself. (3)

If you’re seeking help to find your way through a domestic abuse situation, talk with us at Cape Fear Law. We can give legal advice to keep you safe and also help you drop an order for protection when necessary. If you’re unsure how to proceed, get in touch and find out how we can help.