If a Final Restraining Order is entered, how long does it last?
Heidi Ann Lepp’s Answer:
Final Restraining Orders do not expire in New Jersey. Final Restraining Orders may be dissolved with the consent of the victim. However, the Court has the discretion not to grant a request to dissolve a restraining order even if the request is made with the consent of the Plaintiff.
If the Plaintiff does not consent, the Defendant has the right to apply to have a Final Restraining Order vacated. In order to do this, the Defendant must show that there has been a substantial change of circumstances given the history between the parties and the original basis for the issuance of the restraining order and that there is “good cause” to dissolve the Final Restraining Order. When determining whether “good cause” exists, the Court will evaluate 11 factors. One need not prove all 11 factors to have a final restraining order dismissed. No single factor is more significant than any other. The Court balances the factors when considering the totality of the circumstances to determine if the FRO should be vacated. Having a FRO vacated is not equivalent to an expungement. The Defendant’s name will still appear on the National Domestic Violence Registry and the court findings will not be sealed.