What Happens When a Parent Files for an Order of Protection During a Custody Battle?

When one parent files a restraining order against the other parent after or during a custody battle, there are two essential factors to keep in mind:

-The protective order trumps all prior visitation or custody arrangements, even if the arrangements were ordered by a judge. 

-Violating the restraining order is a crime, even if the accused parent claims that the other parent filed the protective order with no probable cause. 

The Judge’s Ruling 

When it comes to orders of protection, the judge presiding over the custody battle will most likely rule in favor of the child’s safety and well-being. If there are abuse allegations or the child will be in an unsafe environment with the other parent, the judge will likely grant the protective order. 

However, if the judge discovers that the allegations were created or exaggerated simply to stop the other parent from spending time with the child, the judge will question the judgement and motives of the accusing parent. This could affect the accusing parent’s current and future custody rights. 

Steps for Fighting a Protective Order 

If a parent feels that they have been falsely accused of being abusive or dangerous, they can defend themselves in court to have the restraining order lifted. There are several steps parents can take to fight the restraining order.

One of the first things the accused parent should do is honor the restraining order. Even if the accusations are false, accused parents have to wait until their court date to plead their case. Violating the protective order could result in fines or jail time. It’s also important to note that the courts can issue emergency protective orders without notifying you. If you think there is a restraining order you, call your local courthouse to confirm. 

Make sure you gather all necessary evidence to prove your innocence. Keep all texts, emails, phone calls, and letters to prove that you are not a threat to your child or your child’s other parent. You may also want to ask close friends and family members to be witnesses in your case. 

Show up to court on the day your hearing is scheduled. Bring all your evidence with you to prove that the other parent filed a restraining order in bad faith. Make it known that you’ve respected the regulations of the protective order as well. 

Adhering to the Protective Order 

It’s very important that you follow the protective order until your court appearance, even if you previously had visitation rights up until the order was put in place. Failing to adhere to the restraining order is a misdemeanor, which means you could face jail time and hefty fines. 

Even if you think it’s necessary to go against the order to attend a special event for your children, or if your children ask to see you, you’ll still have to honor the order or protection until you are cleared by a judge. You may even face legal repercussions for calling or texting your child depending on the terms of the restraining order. Review your restraining order in detail to make sure you’re not in violation. 

Filing a Protective Order in Bad Faith 

If you’re considering filing an order of protection to get back at your ex, this is a bad idea. Judges generally don’t want their time wasted, as they have important cases to hear. When you prevent the other parent from seeing their child out of spite, the judge could make changes to your custody arrangement. This means you may not get to spend as much time with your children if the courts find that the restraining order was unfounded. 

However, if you are in a custody battle and feel you have valid reason to file an order of protection, talk to a family law attorney or your child’s Guardian Ad Litem before you file. There are cases when sole legal custody is completely justifiable, and if you think your children will be in danger with the other parent, express your concerns to your attorney. 

Disputing a Protective Order 

Remember, the judge should always rule in favor of the child’s best interest. There are cases when sole legal custody is completely justifiable, and if necessary, the judge will grant a temporary restraining order if there is suspicion or proof of abuse. 

However, there are some instances in which a parent may file a restraining order as an act of revenge against the other parent. When this occurs, the accused parent has to go to the judge and petition to have the restraining order lifted.