Know Your Rights – Restraining Orders

 

Under New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act, batterers can be forbidden to have ANY contact with you, relatives, friends, or anyone else at your home, workplace, school or other locations.Click here if you are unsure about whether you are a victim of domestic violence under the law.

If you are afraid and fear for your safety, you can apply for a restraining order to keep the batterer away from you. Getting a restraining order is a two-part process. Click below to learn more.

If you would like more information or have other legal questions, please call the Staff Attorney at the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence (NJCEDV) at (609) 584-8107. The Staff Attorney is available to provide legal expertise and resources by way of brief phone consultations with victims of domestic violence on family law, Final Restraining Orders and other domestic violence related legal matters. All calls are kept confidential and with strict attorney client privilege. In addition, the Staff Attorney can provide Technical Assistance to other organizations and individuals assisting victims of domestic violence. Please note that all calls are returned as soon as possible.

Please note: IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER PLEASE CALL 911 OR THE POLICE.

Additional note: If you require an interpreter in court, one will be provided.

How to Get a Restraining Order

The first step in obtaining a restraining order:

You must obtain a Temporary Restraining Order which is good for a maximum of ten days, unless the court extends the time. In order for the Temporary Restraining Order to be made final, a hearing must be held before a judge of the Superior Court within the ten-day period. The judge will decide if the evidence is sufficient to make the temporary restraining order final or permanent. In New Jersey, final restraining orders last until the court, upon application of one of the parties, vacates the order. The order cannot be vacated without going to court.

How to file during the week

Weekdays between 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Go to the Family Part of the Superior Court in your county and tell the person at the information desk that you want to file a complaint to get a restraining order.

How to file on weekends, nights and holidays

Weekends, nights and holidays: Call the police. A municipal court judge is assigned to issue Temporary Restraining Orders on an emergency basis when the Superior Court is closed.

What do I do next if a restraining order is denied?

How to refile a complaint

If a municipal court judge denies your application for a Temporary Restraining Order, you may refile your complaint in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part and that court may issue you a Temporary Restraining Order. If you would like to talk over your options, contact your local domestic violence program.

What do I do once a restraining order is approved?

Your restraining order

If you do get a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or a Final Restraining Order (FRO) be sure to carry it with you at all times!

 

Questions About Restraining Orders

This is general information related to domestic violence and the legal system. It does not provide specific advice for your individual circumstances, and it is not a substitute for attorney counseling or representation. If you would like more information, or have specific legal questions, please contact the NJCEDV Staff Attorney at (609) 584-8107.

What should I expect at my final restraining order hearing?

You will be asked to explain the relationship between yourself and your abuser for the court to determine whether your relationship fits the law, which would allow the court to hear your case. (This is called jurisdiction.) Next, you will be asked to describe what led you to file for the restraining order, and you will need to provide information related to the most recent times you were abused. Be sure to present any witnesses or evidence, including photographs of injuries, medical reports, etc. You will also need to testify to the history of abuse (things your abuser did to you in the past). Be prepared to be questioned by the judge, by your abuser’s attorney, or, if he/she does not have an attorney, by the abuser him/herself. After the judge makes his/her decision, if the restraining order is continued, you will now need to explain what you would like to be included in the FRO. This includes custody and visitation arrangements, specific locations and other persons from whom the abuser should be restrained, child and/or spousal support, rent or mortgage payments, possession of specified personal property, seizure of weapons, and/or monetary compensation. Your abuser will also have an opportunity to give input into what he/she thinks the final restraining order should include/require.

What do I do if my abuser counter-filed for a restraining order or filed a harassment charge in response to my filing for a TRO?

You must prepare for the hearing. Bring any witnesses or evidence that support what actually happened.

What is a consent order and what makes it valid?

A consent order is an agreement, which is created and willingly entered into by two individuals. A consent order is made valid once it is signed by a judge. However, be aware that a violation of a consent order does not lead to arrest the way that violation of a restraining order does. If your abuser violates your consent order, you may return to family court and make a motion for him/her to comply with the order, or, depending upon the type of violation, you may file for a restraining order.

In a restraining order hearing that resulted from my domestic violence incident, what is the judge likely to order?

The judge has the power to order a final restraining order preventing the abuser from having any contact with you and keeping him/her away from your home and work. The judge may also include decisions related to custody, visitation, financial support, or other issues in your final restraining order. These will depend upon your individual circumstances.

 

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