In the state of New Jersey, a Final Restraining Order (FRO) does not have an expiration date. Therefore, if a Court finds that an FRO is warranted, it will never lapse. The protected party will continue to have the protection of the FRO forever, or at least as long as he or she needs that protection. A Defendant may file a motion with the Court to vacate an FRO.
However, it is extremely difficult to do so if the protected party does not agree. If a motion to vacate an FRO is filed, a Court will only do so if good cause is shown. The Court will consider eleven factors in making a determination as to whether good cause has been shown:
(1) whether the victim consented to lift the restraining order;
(2) whether the victim fears the defendant;
(3) the nature of the relationship between the parties today;
(4) the number of times that the defendant has been convicted of contempt for violating the order;
(5) whether the defendant has a continuing involvement with drug or alcohol use;
(6) whether the defendant has been involved in other violent acts with other persons;
(7) whether the defendant has engaged in counseling;
(8) the age and health of the defendant;
(9) whether the victim is acting in good faith when opposing the defendant's request;
(10) whether another jurisdiction has entered a restraining order protecting the victim from the defendant; and
(11) other factors deemed relevant by the court.
Carfagno v. Carfagno, 288 N.J. Super. 424, 435-42 (Ch. Div. 1995).
If the Court is satisfied that good cause has been shown, it may vacate the FRO. As a result, the formerly protected party will no longer have the protection provided by the FRO and the party against whom the FRO was granted will no longer be limited by it. As set forth in the factors, a protected party may consent to lifting the restraining order.
There are various reasons why a protected party may feel that he or she no longer needs or wants the protection of an FRO (for example passage of time, distance, child care obligations, etc.). However, if you are a protected party, you should consider this decision very carefully. While you will not be precluded from seeking another restraining order, if needed, you may be vulnerable to future acts of domestic violence, from which you were previously protected.
Posted by Robyn E. Ross, Esq.