What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order provides protection against domestic violence. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-28(a). It provides protection against present or former household or family members, someone the applicant is currently or has previously dated, or someone with whom the applicant has a child or is pregnant by. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 (d).

New Jersey recognizes two types of restraining orders: Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) and Final Restraining Orders (FRO).

A TRO may prohibit a defendant from returning to the scene of the domestic violence; forbid the defendant from possessing any firearm or other weapon; and direct the possession of any animal owned or kept by either party or a minor child residing in the household. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-28(j). A TRO may also permit the judge to grant custody over children and give exclusive possession of a home. Id.

A TRO may be issued immediately if a judge finds it necessary to protect the applicant’s life, health, or well-being. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-28(f). The temporary restraining order lasts until a hearing for an FRO. This usually occurs within 10 days of the issuance of a TRO. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(a). A TRO may also be issued ex parte, meaning that the other party does not need to be present. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-28(g).

At the hearing for the final restraining order, both parties will have a chance to present their case with testimony, evidence, and witnesses. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(a). If issued, a final restraining order does not end until one of the parties seeks intervention from the court. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(d).

If awarded, an FRO permits the judge to order the defendant to not harass or stalk; to stay away from the applicant’s home, work, or other designated location; or not make any contact with the applicant. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(b).

Who can apply for one?

A restraining order is available for anyone who has suffered domestic violence from a spouse or former spouse; any present or former household member; someone with whom he or she has a child or is expecting a child; or someone he or she is currently dating or has previously dated. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(d). In New Jersey, this includes assault, kidnapping, lewdness, burglary, harassment, stalking, and cyber harassment among others. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(a).

When can one be obtained?

A TRO may be obtained at any time by filing a complaint alleging the commission of an act of domestic violence with the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-28(a). On weekends, holidays, and other times when the court is closed, a victim may file a complaint before a municipal court judge. Id.

If you have been the victim of or accused of an act of domestic violence, please contact Cliff Bidlingmaier at 609.989.7995 or (215) 970-2755 for your free consultation.