The Superior Court in Monmouth County, New Jersey, serves several important functions. Two of those functions involve child custody and restraining orders. When there are disagreements over child custody or threats of violence or other harm, a court can make custody orders and can further limit or eliminate a parent's ability to have contact with their children or former spouse with a restraining order. If you have a custody or restraining order issue, then it is important to speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
What is a Custody Order?
When a couple who is no longer together has children in common, they don't always agree on who should have custody of the children and how parenting time should be split up. When there are custody disagreements in Monmouth, New Jersey, a Superior Court judge can make custody orders that outline the rights and responsibilities of each parent. These orders will be based on the appropriate New Jersey law, and orders can be changed by the court if there are accusations of violence or harm.
What Law Applies to Custody Cases in Monmouth County?
New Jersey, along with many other states across the country, has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to govern when there are parents who live in different jurisdictions. If a child's parents live in two different states, then the UCCJEA will be used to decide where the case will be heard.
When domestic violence allegations are made against someone in Monmouth County, a court can change existing custody orders and will review several factors in making that decision. The questions that a Superior Court judge will look to answer include:
- Was there alleged violence against a parent, child, or both?;
- Is the threat of violence still imminent?;
- Does the accused have a violent past?;
- How many times has violence been alleged?;
- Was anyone injured?; and
- What do witnesses have to say?
The answers to the questions above can largely determine what a judge will do regarding custody. A judge can change, limit, or even revoke custody based on the information gained relating to the case. A judge can also order parents to attend anger management classes or take other measures that the court finds appropriate. If it is later determined that the accusations were falsely made, then the court can revisit custody and decide if it should be changed again because of the false allegation.
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is an order given by a court to restrain certain individuals from having contact or being in the vicinity of another individual. Restraining orders are given when there are allegations of violence and are intended to keep people safe from threatening or harmful individuals. In most cases, the people involved know each other and are a former couple or family members.
Restraining orders in New Jersey must be filed in the county where the alleged victim lives. Alleged victims of domestic violence in Monmouth County, New Jersey, must file their restraining order petitions in the Monmouth County Superior Court. Restraining order petitions require a detailed account of the accusation being made to be granted by the court. A court will also want to know if there are any prior accusations of violence. Restraining orders can be granted when there are allegations of:
- Sexual assault,
- Kidnapping, or
- False imprisonment.
What Types of Restraining Orders Exist?
In New Jersey, Two types of restraining orders exist, and they usually are issued in sequence. The first type of restraining order is known as a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). A Temporary restraining order is a sort of interim restraining order that is issued when an allegation of violence is filed with the court or local police station. The individual who makes the allegation must appear in court for the judge to determine if a TRO should be issued to protect them. If the judge grants the TRO, then it is served on the individual named in the complaint by local police or county sheriff.
The other type of restraining order in New Jersey is known as a Final Restraining Order (FRO). This type of restraining order is permanent and cannot be removed unless the court decides to do so. When a TRO is authorized, the court will then set a hearing date, usually within 10 days, to determine if a FRO should be granted.
What Happens if the Court Grants a Restraining Order Against Me?
If you are named in a complaint for a restraining order, and a TRO is granted against you, then you are likely facing a court hearing within ten days where the judge will decide whether to make your restraining order permanent. If the judge grants a FRO against you, then you will face a $50-500 charge to the court, along with required photographs and fingerprints. You will also lose your gun rights and may face deportation or other immigration issues if you are not a U.S. citizen. If you are facing the possibility of a restraining order, then you need to get legal counsel immediately as time is limited, and the potential effects are great.
What Happens if Someone Violates a Restraining Order?
Both TROs and FROs are considered civil and not criminal in nature. However, a violation of either a TRO or FRO can lead to a criminal contempt charge. Alleged TRO and/or FRO violations require the police to arrest the individual named, even if the allegation is later shown to be false. FRO violations can result in several punishments depending on the conduct alleged. An initial restraining order violation can be punished by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. A second violation of a restraining order can result in a mandatory 30-day jail sentence. If there are allegations of domestic violence while violating a restraining order, then this can result in a fourth-degree felony charge. A fourth-degree felony conviction can be punished by up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Where Can I Get a Custody or Restraining Order?
The correct court to file a custody order is in the county where the child lives. If your child lives in Monmouth County, then custody orders are determined by the Monmouth County Superior Court. If you live in the county and are looking to file a complaint seeking either a TRO or FRO, then you will also need to file your complaint at the Monmouth County Superior Court.
The Monmouth County Superior Court is located at:
71 Monument Street
Freehold NJ, 07728
The court accepts complaints for restraining orders from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Monday-Friday.
It is highly recommended that you have professional legal help if you are dealing with either a custody or restraining order issue.
Can I Have a Custody or Restraining Order Cancelled?
Both custody and restraining orders are considered permanent unless the court decides to revisit them and make any changes. The court will only revisit custody or restraining order issues when an appeal or motion for reconsideration is filed. Judges will only make changes to existing orders if they are convinced that the change should be made in the best interests of those involved. Even if a couple reconciles, the court orders will remain until they are changed by a judge.
If you have already been given an order of custody or a restraining order decision and want to appeal, then your case will be transferred to the appropriate appellate court. In this court, the case is reviewed along with any transcripts of any testimony to determine if the Superior Court judge appropriately followed the law. Any motions for reconsideration regarding either a custody or restraining order decision must be filed within 20 days of the decision of the judge. If you fail to file your claim in time, then you will likely lose the ability to ask the judge to reconsider their decision. If this happens, then you will need to file a new motion with a new set of facts for the judge to consider. If you have legal questions, then call us at The Lento Law Firm so we can help!
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
If you have questions about custody or restraining orders, then it is important that you ask an experienced attorney. It is essential to know what the Monmouth County Court is looking for when determining whether to grant a custody or restraining order. The attorneys at the Lento Law Firm have the experience and skills that are necessary to help put you in the best position for success. To learn why attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm is the right choice, call us at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.