Legal Information: District of Columbia

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
April 1, 2022

How do I change, extend, or cancel my anti-stalking order?

To change (modify) the terms of your anti-stalking order (ASO), you would file a motion to modify in which you would ask the judge to change your order. You will have to serve the motion on the respondent, and then attend another court hearing to convince the judge that this change to the order is necessary. There does not need to have been a violation of the ASO for a judge to order a modification.1

To extend a final ASO beyond its expiration date, you would file a motion to extend the order if you believe you still need protection from the court. You will have to give the judge “good cause” to extend the order. You do not need to show that the respondent violated the order for a judge to believe there is “good cause” to extend it.

Generally, you should go to court to file this motion with enough time to have a hearing before the order expires. However, if you file a motion to extend any time before your order expires, your order will remain in effect until the judge holds a hearing and makes a decision on your motion. A judge can extend an order for any amount of time that the judge thinks is appropriate. However, if the judge decides to extend the order for more than two years, then the judge must believe that one of the following is true:

  • the respondent violated the ASO;
  • before you got the ASO that is being extended, you had another ASO against the same person; or
  • there are other convincing circumstances relating to your safety or welfare that require the ASO to be extended for more than two years.2

If you no longer want the anti-stalking order, you can file to cancel the order, known as a motion to vacate the order. However, we strongly suggest that you talk to an advocate or lawyer before doing this to make sure this is the step you want to take. If you think you no longer need the order because the stalker hasn’t been bothering you lately, remember that s/he likely stayed away from you because you had the order. If you remove the order, there is nothing to prevent the stalking from re-starting. Instead of vacating the order completely, you may be able to modify the order. This would allow you to keep some of the protections, while placing fewer restrictions on the respondent.

Any motion you file must be served on the respondent. You will both have the chance to appear at the court date where you will explain why you want to change, extend, or vacate the order to the judge. The judge will review the evidence and decide what actions, if any, to take. Only a judge can change an ASO. An agreement between you and the stalker outside of court does not change the requirements of the ASO.

1 D.C. Code § 16-1064(e)
2 D.C. Code § 16-1064(e)(3)

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