Domestic Violence & Restraining Orders Attorney

As family law attorneys, we often work closely with victims of domestic violence to protect them from their abusers. We are one of the first individuals to advise victims of their rights and prepare them for Final Restraining Order hearings so they can seek a permanent order of protection from their abusers. We want to ensure victims of domestic violence obtain the support they need in order to move forward with their lives and properly care for their children.

Understanding Domestic Violence

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, we can help. Domestic violence is a pattern of physical, emotional, verbal, and/or sexual abuse. This abuse can include but is not limited to assault, threats, harassment, isolation, and/or financial control.

New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is a law that protects victims of domestic violence and domestic abuse by allowing them to obtain a restraining order. It applies to anyone over the age of 18 years old who experienced one of the following acts of domestic violence:

  • Homicide
  • Assault
  • Terroristic threats
  • Kidnapping
  • Criminal restraint
  • False imprisonment
  • Sexual assault
  • Criminal sexual contact
  • Lewdness
  • Criminal mischief
  • Burglary
  • Criminal trespass
  • Harassment
  • Cyber harassment
  • Stalking
  • Criminal coercion
  • Robbery
  • Contempt of a domestic violence order
  • Any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person protected under the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991.”

To get a restraining order, you must also have a qualifying relationship with the defendant, which is defined as the following:

  • Spouse
  • Former spouse
  • Present or former household member
  • Having a child in common with the defendant or
  • Having had a dating relationship with the defendant.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender. Domestic violence affects people of all backgrounds and education levels and occurs in all types of relationships. If you are a victim of domestic violence, it is not your fault. We will do everything we can to make sure you receive the protection you need.

If you experienced any of the above, know that you have legal options to protect yourself from the abuse you are experiencing. Our attorneys are well-versed in domestic violence cases and are here to help guide you through the process.

Obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can get a temporary restraining order (TRO) to protect you on an emergency basis. A TRO means that the defendant is not permitted to have any contact with you whether it is in person or through messaging. In order to obtain a TRO, you need to file a complaint at your local county courthouse. If the domestic violence incident occurred after court hours, you can apply for a TRO at your local police department.

After you file your initial complaint, you will appear before a judge and explain the circumstances surrounding your request for a TRO. If the judge deems your allegations sufficient, the court will issue a TRO.

Understand that obtaining a TRO is just the first step in the process. It is a temporary remedy until you can appear in front of the judge for a Final Restraining Order.

If your TRO is granted, the defendant will be served with a copy of the TRO by the local police department. If the defendant is residing in the same home as you, the defendant will be escorted out of the home when he/she is served with the TRO. Additionally, any weapons owned by the defendant will be seized by the police pending a Final Restraining Order hearing.

Final Restraining Order Hearing

In the event the court grants your TRO, a Final Restraining Order (“FRO”) hearing will be held shortly thereafter. The hearing is supposed to occur within ten days of receiving the TRO. However, the courts are often backlogged, which may cause delays. It is important that you meet with an attorney prior to the FRO hearing so they can advise you of your rights and prepare you for the FRO hearing.

In order to obtain a Final Restraining Order (“FRO”), you must establish the following:

  • You have a qualifying relationship with the defendant;
  • The defendant committed one or more of the predicate acts of domestic violence identified in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act set forth above; and
  • You need an FRO for protection going forward.

During the FRO hearing, the court will take testimony from the victim, defendant, and any third-party witness[es] who may have been present during the incident or have personal knowledge of the parties.

A victim (as well as any witnesses) will also be subject to cross-examination from the defendant’s attorney, or from the defendant if the defendant is self-represented. We understand that this will be very difficult – especially having to relive the abuse. However, our attorneys will be with you the entire process. We will ensure that you are prepared for the hearing and provide you with the support you need to get through it.

At the completion of the trial, the court will determine whether to convert the TRO into an FRO. Converting the TRO into an FRO means that the restraints set forth in the TRO will be made permanent. If this occurs, the FRO will remain in place permanently and the abuser’s name will be entered into the domestic violence database. If the TRO is dismissed, the defendant will no longer be subject to the restraints of the TRO.

Defending Against Temporary Restraining Orders

We also work to defend those who are falsely accused of domestic violence. The laws in New Jersey are written to protect the safety of victims of abuse, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, sometimes a spouse or parent tries to gain an advantage in their divorce or custody case by filing a false domestic violence claim. The consequences of a Restraining Order, both personal and legal, are severe and should not be taken lightly.

If you are falsely accused, it is important that you meet with an attorney to discuss your options. If an FRO is granted, you will lose specific rights to property, possession of weapons, custody, and it may affect your employment. In addition, your name will be placed on a New Jersey domestic violence offender list. Don’t assume that just because you know you did not commit domestic violence that a judge will also recognize the truth. It is important to be prepared at your FRO hearing to ensure that any false allegations are dismissed.

Violating a Temporary Restraining Order or Final Restraining Order

If a defendant violates a Temporary Restraining Order or Final Restraining Order, they will be subject to a criminal contempt proceeding. The TRO and FRO are both civil protections. However, if a defendant violates either a TRO or FRO, they can be punished criminally.

Our attorneys are here to help guide you through the process to ensure you are protected. For assistance with a domestic violence matter, we invite you to contact Family Focused Legal Solutions online or schedule an initial consultation by calling us at 973-993-9960. Our firm serves the greater part of North and Central Jersey including but not limited to Morris County, Somerset County, Bergen County, and Sussex County. All communications are strictly confidential.