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Modifying a Protection Order in DC

A protection order can be modified at any time based on a motion. As an example, a respondent may wish to modify a stay-away order from 100 yards to 50 yards because the respondent and the petitioner live near each other.

Judges are more inclined to modify a protection order at the request of a respondent after some time has passed. If the protection order is being followed, a judge may respond favorably if a motion to modify the protection order is made a week after it is put in place. An experienced attorney could walk a respondent through the process of modifying a protection order in DC and place them in the best possible position for a successful hearing.

Protection Order Modification Hearing

If a respondent requests a modification to a protection order, that does not necessarily mean the order is immediately brought to court—it is possible for modifications to be me made without going to court. A respondent may request their attorney to the petitioner’s attorney. If the petitioner agrees to the modification, an unopposed motion is filed and the modification is made.

When the respondent requests a modification and the petitioner objects, an opposition may be filed by the petitioner, and a judge could then decide the issue at a hearing. In the District of Columbia, the judge that imposed the protection order is usually the one who modifies it.

Possible Modifications to a Protection Order

Modifications to an existing protection order in DC depend on the specific order. Depending on the circumstances of a case—and whether or not the parties agree—there is usually no limit on what can be modified. Typical modifications include the type of permitted contact between the petitioner and the respondent, usually in the context of arrangements for childcare or the transfer of children between the parents.

Firearms Provision

When a civil protection order is issued, it is standard that any firearms present in a home where the petitioner and responder are going to be living are removed. It is also a standard requirement that firearms are removed from a respondent’s home. Under certain circumstances, a respondent may request that they are permitted to own firearms again.

Peaceful Contact Provision

When a civil protection order is issued, the respondent is often prohibited from living with or having direct or indirect contact with the petitioner. Occasionally, as time passes and the parties agree that they do not want a restriction in place any longer, they may request a modification to the civil protection order. For example, if the parties want to live together again, a “NO HATS” provision may be put in place by the petitioner that prohibits harassment, assault, threats or stalking behavior by the respondent.

Possible Rehabilitative Options

Washington, DC has a variety of programs to address issues of concern in the civil protection order. For example, in a domestic violence incident, attendance at a domestic violence intervention program is often required to address the issues. Drug and alcohol programs are also available to focus on those types of issues. A judge may grant a modification to a protection order that is contingent on a respondent participating in a rehabilitative program.

How an Attorney Could Help Modify a Protection Order

If you are a respondent who is interested in modifying a protection order in DC, you will likely need legal help. Judges take protection orders seriously, particularly if they involve domestic disputes. As a result, they may be unwilling to modify an order that they believe is preventing violence. An experienced lawyer could collect evidence and work with a judge to bring about fair conditions for a modification that keep both the petitioner and the respondent safe.

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