Applying for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in New Jersey

If you have been harmed or threatened by a person who you live with or once lived with, are or were married to or have a child with, you can apply for a domestic violence restraining order in New Jersey. State officials take domestic violence very seriously, so applications are processed promptly. If a restraining order is issued, you abuser will be forbidden from contacting you in any way.

Temporary and Final Restraining Orders

There are two types of domestic violence restraining orders in New Jersey. Temporary restraining orders are issued when reports of domestic violence are made, and they forbid contact with the victim until a hearing is held. This hearing takes place no later than 10 days after the temporary restraining order is issued. If the judge determines that a threat exists, a final restraining order is issued.

If you wish to apply for a domestic violence restraining order, you should visit the Superior Court’s Family Division Office in the county where you live, the county where your abuser lives or the county where a domestic violence incident occurred. If you wish to apply for a restraining order when the courts are closed, you can visit a police department instead. A member of the courthouse staff or a police officer will help you to fill out the paperwork.

The completed paperwork is sent to a judge for review. Judges act with an abundance of caution in these situations, so applications for temporary restraining orders are usually approved. Police officers will be dispatched to inform your abuser about the restraining order, so you will not have to deal with them.

The Final Restraining Order Hearing

The date of the final restraining order hearing will be no later than 10 days after the temporary restraining order is issued. These hearings are held to make sure that a final restraining order is really necessary, and they give both sides a chance to make arguments, present evidence and call witnesses. Judges preside over these hearings, but there are no juries. If the judge issues a final restraining order, it will:

  • Prohibit contact: Final restraining orders prohibit all contact with the victim. This includes phone calls, text messages and emails as well as physical contact.
  • Remove weapons: When a final restraining order is issued against an individual, the police are granted a search warrant to locate and seize their weapons.
  • Address child support and custody issues: You can ask the judge to put child support and custody arrangements in place during the final restraining order hearing. You can also ask for existing arrangements to be modified.
  • Remove the danger: If you live with your abuser, the judge can order them to leave the home even if the lease or mortgage is in their name.
  • Safeguard pets: If your abuser has taken one or more pets or companion animals from you, he or she will be ordered to return them.

You can represent yourself in a final restraining order hearing, but it may be wise to retain the services of an experienced New Jersey family law attorney if you are unfamiliar with legal procedures. Hiring a lawyer is definitely something that you should consider if your abuser will be going into court with legal representation.

The Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order

Lawmakers know that domestic violence usually gets more serious as time goes on, which is why they have made domestic violence restraining orders such a high priority. If your abuser violates the conditions of the restraining order, they could be charged with a crime. If they continue to violate the conditions, they could be charged with a felony and sent to jail for up to 18 months.

Advocating on Behalf of Domestic Violence Victims

If you are the victim of domestic abuse or violence, the laws in New Jersey protect you. A domestic violence restraining order could put an end to the threat and prevent any further contact, and you can apply for one at a Superior Court or police station. You will have to convince a judge that a restraining order is necessary during a formal hearing, so you may feel more comfortable with a skilled lawyer at your side.

The experienced New Jersey family law attorneys at Morgenstern & Rochester have been advocating on behalf of domestic violence victims for many years, and they know what to expect in a final restraining order hearing. If you would like to schedule a consultation at our Cherry Hill office to discuss your legal options in confidence, you can call us at (856) 489-6200 or complete our online form.