An individual who is the victim of physical abuse may file a domestic violence complaint with the Family Division of the Superior Court of the state of New Jersey. If the court has jurisdiction, it may issue a restraining order to protect the victim from further acts of physical violence. Depending upon the circumstances and the injuries suffered by the victim, criminal charges may also be filed against the person against whom allegations of domestic violence are being made.
In order for the court to have jurisdiction, the parties must be married, separated, divorced, living together in a relationship either now or in the past, have a child in common or dated each other. A person wishing to file a domestic violence complaint must be interviewed by a court employee whose job it is to obtain information about the allegations of domestic violence. Following the interview with the court worker, the victim must appear before a judge or domestic violence hearing officer. The alleged abuser is not present at this initial hearing.
At the conclusion of the first hearing before a hearing officer or judge, a temporary restraining order may be issued. A hearing date for a final restraining order is scheduled to be held within 10 days. During the time between the two hearings, a copy of the temporary restraining order is sent to a law enforcement agency for service on the accused abuser.
If a court decides to issue a final restraining order after the second hearing, the order may, depending upon the circumstances of each case, include any of the following:
- Prohibit the abuser from stalking, threatening or following the victim
- Order the abuser to pay child support
- Direct the abuser to obtain a substance abuse evaluation and attend treatment if needed
- Award possession of the couple’s residence to the victim
- Award temporary custody of minor children
Courts and hearings can involve complex legal procedures and rules that must be followed. This post is an overview of an area of the law, but it is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Only a New Jersey divorce and family law attorney should give legal advice pertaining to domestic violence orders.