New Jersey restraining orders are intended to protect victims from ongoing domestic abuse. But sometimes, both people in a domestic or intimate relationship may consider themselves to be victims in need of legal protection from the other person. In such cases, it is possible for each person to have a restraining order against the other, as long as each person proves their case to a judge.
Obtaining a Restraining Order in New Jersey
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) permits an adult victim of domestic abuse to seek a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against an alleged abuser at the Family Division of their local Superior Court. The victim, known as the plaintiff, must allege that the defendant committed an act of domestic violence and that their life, health, or well-being is in immediate danger. If the judge believes the plaintiff is likely at risk, they will order the TRO.
A TRO generally prohibits a defendant from abusing, stalking, contacting, approaching, or speaking to a plaintiff, in person or electronically. It can also forbid the defendant from going to specific locations, contacting the plaintiff's close friends or family members, or possessing any weapons. It can also award child custody to the plaintiff and bar the defendant from the family home.
The order remains in effect for no more than ten days, at which time a Final Restraining Order (FRO) hearing will be held. At the FRO hearing, the plaintiff and defendant will have the opportunity to testify and present evidence, including eye-witnesses, supporting their position. A judge will decide whether to issue a FRO based on this evidence. The FRO may extend the terms of the TRO indefinitely.
What Are the Conditions for a Restraining Order?
Under the PDVA, only adults in a domestic relationship may seek a restraining order to prevent abuse. A domestic relationship includes people who:
- Live or have lived in the same household
- Have or had a romantic relationship
- Have or are expecting a child together
The law also names 19 offenses that may constitute domestic abuse, including assault, terroristic threats, criminal restraint, kidnapping, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, and burglary.
To obtain a TRO, the plaintiff must make a prima facie showing that these conditions are met. To get a FRO, they must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (it's more likely than not) that a qualifying form of abuse has occurred, that the abuse is ongoing, and that they fear for their safety.
What Happens if Two People File a Restraining Order Against the Other?
Parties in a domestic relationship may petition for a TRO against the other, however, each will have to meet the requisite conditions. The judge may grant one petition, both, or neither, depending on the facts. While two people in a relationship may indeed pose a mutual danger to each other, in some cases, an aggressor might improperly file a TRO because the victim defended themselves against their abuse. Likewise, someone may accuse a person of domestic abuse to harass them or obtain child custody.
When both parties allege abuse, the judge will likely to be particularly attentive to signs of spuriousness in the claims. Both parties should be well-represented by a New Jersey lawyer experienced in domestic violence cases during the FRO hearing.
Hire a Domestic Violence Lawyer in New Jersey
A restraining order can have an enormous impact on your life. If someone has petitioned for a restraining order against you although you are the one suffering abuse, speak to a domestic violence lawyer immediately. You need to ensure that you act quickly to ensure your rights are protected. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm has years of experience handling domestic violence cases and a strong track record of delivering results. Contact us today for a case consultation at (888) 535-3686.