Domestic violence in New Jersey can include anything from serious physical violence to harassment as it is defined under the statute. When there is an allegation of domestic abuse in New Jersey, a victim can seek the protection of the Court. This is done by applying for a temporary restraining order. You can consult with a family law attorney for support with the process.
When there is an emergency need for protection, temporary restraining orders are often entered on what’s referred to as an ex parte basis. This means that the person seeking protection tells the Judge why they need a restraining order and the Judge, without hearing from the other side or reviewing evidence, decides whether to issue a temporary restraining order.
The judge has issued the temporary restraining order. What happens next?
Once a temporary restraining order is issued, it has to be served on (or handed to) the party who has been named as the defendant. Temporary Restraining Orders typically prohibit the other party from having any contact, direct or indirect, with the person protected by the order. If there are firearms those will have to be surrendered to the local police. And if the parties are living with one another, the temporary order may require the other party to leave the home.
What happens to the children?
Where children are involved, the temporary order may also affect parenting rights and the defendant may temporarily lose parenting time. Because these prohibitions are put in place without giving the other side an opportunity to respond, courts are required to conduct a hearing shortly after the entry of the temporary restraining order (usually within a week to 10 days).
I heard of Final Restraining Orders in New Jersey. What are they?
A final restraining order in New Jersey lasts until it is vacated by the Court, which means that there is no clear end date for a final restraining order . For the party seeking a final restraining order the threshold questions are two-fold:
- Was an act of domestic violence committed?
- Is there an ongoing need for protection?
If the answer to both these questions is yes, then a final restraining order is granted. If the answer to either question is no, then the temporary order is vacated.
What happens to Domestic Violence offenders in New Jersey?
New Jersey maintains a central registry of domestic violence offenders so once a final order is entered, the party found to have committed an act of domestic violence will be registered. This can have a negative impact on their ability to continue working and can prevent the person from being hired for certain types of jobs.
Will a restraining order show up on a background check in New Jersey?
On a routine background check in New Jersey, a restraining order will not show up because it is treated as a civil (non-criminal) matter. If a more thorough or extensive background check is run, there is a possibility the order will be found.
Is there anything more amicable than a temporary restraining order?
Sometimes, for any number of reasons, parties will decide that rather than going to a trial in front of a Judge and seeking a final order, they would rather reach an agreement on their own to resolve the restraining order. In those instances, New Jersey allows for the parties to reach an agreement for Civil Restraints which may apply regardless of whether they are married or unmarried.'
In short, civil restraints are an alternative to a final restraining order. They must be entered into by agreement, because that the Court cannot impose civil restraints. In some situations, civil restraints can be a good, less restrictive, option to avoid a final restraining order.
How do you file for Civil Restraints in New Jersey?
An agreement for civil restraints cannot be entered under the domestic violence docket (the court record where the Restraining Orders are lodged). Therefore, there must be another docket to enter the record of the Civil Restraint agreement. Typically, this will occur under either the FM (divorce or dissolution) or FD (not related to a divorce or dissolution) docket. The key takeaway is in order to enter into Civil Restraints there must be a place to record the agreement. In those cases the domestic violence action is vacated.
What protection does a civil restraint agreement provide?
Civil Restraints can address many protections similar to a Final Restraining Order :
- Prohibit contact between the parties
- Allow one party to continue to have exclusive possession of the home
- Prevent either party from posting any disparaging or damaging comments online
- Address parenting time
- Add other agreed provisions to minimize conflict
What’s the difference between a civil restraint and a restraining order?
The primary distinction between Civil Restraints and Restraining Orders is in how they are enforced. When there is a restraining order in effect, whether temporary or final, a violation of the restraining order is treated as criminal contempt resulting in, among other things, jail time, fines and/ or probation.. Therefore, police can be called in the event of a violation.
Civil restraint violations, on the other hand, are, civil (non-criminal)in nature. The Court can enforce its’ order. The plaintiff can file a Motion for Contempt and Enforcement, but the civil remedies through the Court are limited and will likely not include incarceration. The decision between seeking a final restraining order or agreeing to civil restraints is an important one and often depends on many case specific factors. A family lawyer near you can help you determine which route to go.
Civil restraints might accomplish the desired protections and alleviate the uncertainty of a trial or the potential negative consequences of a final order. That said, there are situations and circumstances where civil restraints would be inappropriate or insufficient. Whether a person is the victim of domestic violence or accused of committing an act of domestic violence, one should consult with a family law attorney that understands New Jersey family law when contemplating resolving a case by litigating for a final restraining order or agreeing to civil restraints.
Talk to a Family Law Attorney
With any matter involving domestic abuse or violence, it pays to seek counsel from a knowledgeable family law attorney near you. Our family law practice is well established and supports clients in Doylestown and Norristown, PA. We also offer assistance to clients in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Our law practice can support you all types of issues relating to family law. Get in touch. We’re here to help.