Having a permanent protection order placed against you makes it difficult to gain custody of your children because the court will see it as proof you are unfit to parent. That doesn't mean you don't have any options available. Here are two things you can do to gain custody of your kids when there's a restraining order on file for you.
Get the Protection Order Removed
You can push back against the protection order and try to get it removed. Depending on why the order was granted, this may not be an easy task. Essentially, you'll have to show that the basis of the restraining order was false or no longer applies.
For instance, if your ex-partner cited domestic violence as the reason for seeking a protection order against you., then you would have to prove that claim as false and there was no abuse or you have rehabilitated yourself enough that the abuse issue is no longer a factor.
Thus, your legal strategy will entail one of two things. If your defense is your ex-partner lied about the basis of the restraining order, you need to furnish proof supporting your exertion. The evidence can be anything from witness statements to a recording of your ex-partner confessing to lying. Whatever evidence you have, it must be convincing enough to sway the judge.
On the other hand, if your defense is that you've changed, you must show you put in the work to better yourself. For instance, you can have your therapist testify that you've learned how to better handle your anger issues. Be aware, though, that this is only half the battle. The court may require you to also show you can interact peacefully with your ex-partner, and only after demonstrating this will the order be lifted.
In either case, it's critical you work with a family law attorney who can advise you on the best way to handle the case to achieve the outcome you want.
Wait It Out
The other option is to wait until the protection order expires and then try to gain custody again. These orders are typically granted for a maximum of one year. However, the filing party can request the order be extended, but they must provide a valid reason, and proove the restraining order is still needed.
If you obeyed the terms of the protection order and haven't caused any problems or gotten into trouble, the judge may deny the filing party's request. At that point, the petition will expire and you can return to family court to fight for custody of your kids without it hanging over your head.
It's best to seek out the advice of an attorney who can guide you into making the right decision for your situation. Contact a child custody attorney, such as Kenneth J. Molnar, for more information.