Recognizing the need to protect victims of domestic violence, New Jersey first adopted The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act back in 1982. The statute has been amended and updated several times since then, in order to broaden the protections it offers. Restraining orders are one of the most important protections the Act provides to those who are suffering from domestic abuse.
New Jersey domestic abuse lawyer Lauren Wimmer is dedicated to helping those who are most vulnerable. She knows how to navigate the restraining order process to get the protection you need. If you’re in danger and need someone to fight for your rights, contact us at 215-712-1212 for a free and confidential consultation.
You can get a restraining order if you are an adult or emancipated minor and you are a victim of domestic abuse from one of the following:
Note that same-sex partners are eligible for obtaining a restraining order in the event of abuse. Unfortunately, however, not everyone who is a victim of abuse can get a restraining order. An adult cannot obtain a restraining order against a minor. Furthermore, non-emancipated minors are limited in their ability to pursue restraining orders. An experienced domestic abuse attorney can help you determine whether you are eligible for a restraining order and what other options you may have.
First, you must be a victim of domestic abuse to be eligible for a restraining order. Under New Jersey Law, the following crimes are considered domestic abuse for purposes of obtaining a restraining order:
Please note that the abuser does not have to be convicted of any of these crimes before you can pursue a restraining order. To seek a restraining order, the abuser must have committed at least one of these acts. Many cases of domestic violence involve several of these acts. A single act committed one time can qualify as domestic abuse, but in some cases, you may need to establish a pattern of abuse to obtain the restraining order.
The intent behind a restraining order is to protect you from further harm. At its most basic, the restraining order prohibits the abuser from having any contact with you, even prohibiting them from coming within a certain distance. That said, restraining orders can include extremely detailed restrictions designed for your protection:
The restraining order can contain any restrictions that you deem appropriate but will be subject to final approval by the judge.
You will need to file a petition for a restraining order with the appropriate court. You can file your petition in the county where you live, where the abuser lives, or in the county where the abuse occurred. Whichever location you choose, you will need to file your petition with the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior Court for that county.
The process of obtaining a restraining order can be somewhat challenging for non-lawyers, especially when you are under a tremendous amount of emotional stress. Once you have decided where to file for your restraining order, you will need to go to the court and get the appropriate forms (they can also be obtained from the local police station). Once there, the clerk can help you fill out the forms, but note that they cannot give you legal advice. This can be frustrating for non-lawyers, as the difference between “helping” and giving legal advice isn’t always clear. If you hire an experienced domestic abuse lawyer, they can handle the entire process for you.
Once the forms have been completed and filed with the court, it will be given to a judge for review. If the judge believes that you are in immediate danger, they will grant a temporary restraining order (TRO). The TRO will remain in effect until the formal hearing, which will be scheduled within 10 days of the date you file your petition. If the judge doesn’t grant the TRO, note that your case isn’t over - you will still have the formal court hearing and the opportunity to get a restraining order against your abuser.
The final step is to attend the formal court hearing. Both you and the abuser will be expected to attend. You will have to testify and submit evidence to the court in order to support your petition for a restraining order. Your abuser will have an opportunity to argue their side as to why the restraining order shouldn’t be imposed.
The judge will ultimately decide the case and whether to enter a final restraining order (FRO). The FRO may include all of the restrictions in the TRO or may contain some revisions. However, the FRO will remain in effect forever or until one of the parts files a motion with the court to have the FRO ended or modified.
You are not required to hire a lawyer to get a restraining order. However, the process is complex - a simple mistake can create delays and jeopardize your safety or the safety of your children. New Jersey domestic abuse lawyer Lauren Wimmer provides her clients with aggressive, effective legal representation so that they can begin to build a better life. If you would like to learn more about how we can help, call us at 215-712-1212 or reach out via email to schedule a free and confidential consultation.