New Jersey allows victims of domestic violence, stalking, harassment, and other threatening behaviors to request restraining orders against the offenders. The state offers several types of protective orders, and if you have a restraining order issued in New Jersey, you can enforce the order in another state. The Violence Against Women Act asserts that all valid protection orders granted by any jurisdiction in the United States, including tribal and U.S. territories, receive "full faith and credit" in other states and territories.
But what about international cases? What if you live in New Jersey, but your abuser lives in another country? Were they harassing you only online, through email, or by phone? Did the stalking, harassment, or abuse occur in person in another country, but they continue to harass you now that you are back in the U.S.? Maybe it happened here, and they went back to their own country but continued to harass you?
You likely have options to stop the harassment, but you will need to have your case evaluated by an attorney because the circumstance and facts of your case will determine your best course of action.
Other issues involving restraining orders with an international element include:
- You were both living in a foreign country when the abuse occurred, and you fled to America to escape it.
- You were living in the U.S. as an immigrant and fled back to your native country or some other country to escape your abuser.
You may have another scenario where you need to seek protection from someone in another country, and you need to have an attorney evaluate your case and advise you of your options.
International Restraining Order Cases Involving Children
If you have minor children with the abuser, and they took your children to another country, your case may fall under several international treaties and federal statutes and likely has numerous factors that will govern your rights and legal options. Much will depend on your circumstances and the situation involved, but you can consider the following questions to see if any apply to your case:
- Are you still married or divorced?
- If divorced, what type of custody order do you have?
- Are you divorced with sole custody, but your spouse took the children and went to a foreign country?
- Were you living with someone as a domestic partner and had children with them, and now they've taken your kids?
- Did the child's other parent abuse them, kidnap, and take them to another country?
- Did you take out a restraining order on your spouse that stripped them of their custody, and they took them out of the country anyway?
No matter your situation, you now fear for your children's lives and safety because of your spouse's history of abuse, and you may not know where to turn to get answers.
International restraining order cases have a lot of possible scenarios, especially when minor children are involved. They are also complex and sometimes confusing areas of law, and the best way to handle your situation depends largely on the specific issues of your case.
Get the Legal Help You Need
You need to understand all laws regarding international protection orders and how they may apply to your situation, particularly if it involves your children. You also need to understand your rights and how you can enforce any restraining order or custody situation that has an international element so you can get the relief you seek.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team have helped many domestic violence victims and their children in New Jersey with obtaining and enforcing restraining orders and other domestic abuse situations. He offers exceptional representation in helping you with your international restraining order issues by providing a unique blend of both family law and criminal defense experience. Attorney Lento has extensive knowledge of international laws, including those that pertain to international child abduction and parents unlawfully taking their children outside the United States.
For help understanding your rights and options regarding your international restraining order or foreign protection order and how you can help ensure you and your children are safe from your abuser, you can reach out to Attorney Lento and the Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm to schedule a confidential consultation.
What Are Restraining Orders in New Jersey?
Restraining orders are issued by the court to offer protection to someone who suffered domestic violence or continual harassment or stalking from someone else. Restraining orders typically prohibit the offender or abuser from contacting the victim, and they can limit all interactions with the protected person's family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and other relevant parties.
Restraining orders forbid the offender from going to the victim's home, workplace, school, or anywhere else the offender knows the victim will be. You can get a restraining order against anyone whether they live with you or not, but if you do live together and get a restraining order against someone in your household (your spouse, for instance), then the person will have to move out once the restraining order is approved.
A restraining order will have an amount of time that dictates how long the offender must stay away from the victim, and the order does not automatically cancel if the parties reconcile. Only a judge can cancel a restraining order, and until that time, the offender can get into legal trouble for violating the order, no matter, if they and the victim make amends and the victim, agrees to have contact with the offender.
When Can You Get a Restraining Order in New Jersey?
To get a restraining order in New Jersey, you must petition for one through your local family court. You can also get a restraining order whether or not you know the alleged offender.
The court may grant a restraining order based on several different grounds, and the offenses the perpetrator is alleged to have committed against you will dictate which protective order you can obtain. The following are some of the most common grounds people seek protective orders against someone else:
- Assault or aggravated assault
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault or abuse
- Child abuse or child sexual abuse
In some cases, the victim may hesitate to get a restraining order against their abuser or harasser because they fear retaliation. The offender may also be the parent of the victim's children, and the victim may fear for their children's safety.
Some victims choose not to pursue restraining orders because they do not want to have the offender arrested. However, you can get a restraining order without filing criminal charges against the offender.
To get a restraining order, though, you will have to provide a detailed explanation of what happened, including the date, time, and location of the alleged offense (or offenses). If the judge feels there is enough just cause to issue the order, they will likely authorize one.
Who Can Get a Restraining Order?
In New Jersey, you can get a restraining order against someone in situations of domestic violence if any of the following applies:
- You are at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor
- You are alleging assault or abuse by a spouse, former spouse, roommate or housemate, or anyone who lives in your home with you
- You have children with the offender
- You were assaulted by a dating partner or current or former boyfriend or girlfriend
If any of the above apply to you, New Jersey law considers you a victim of domestic violence, and you could petition for a Protection From Abuse order (PFA), especially if the person sexually abused you or your children.
If you were sexually assaulted by someone you didn't know, you may request a Sexual Assault Protective Order. In compliance with the Sexual Assault Survivors Protection Act (SASPA), New Jersey offers this protection to victims of sexual violence who do not qualify as domestic violence victims.
Getting a Restraining Order for Stalking or Harassment
Stalking is a criminal offense, and you can get a restraining order against someone who consistently, on two or more occasions, does any of the following:
- Repeatedly follows you or continually maintains physical or visual proximity to you
- Monitors you and your actions
- Interferes with your property
- Conveys or implies threats, either verbally, through writing, texting, or any other means of communication
To be guilty of stalking, the person must make you fear for your safety or cause you emotional distress. The crime becomes a third-degree felony if the perpetrator violates an existing protective order or if this is their second stalking offense against you. If the person is in prison or on probation or parole, they can also face third-degree charges.
In New Jersey, you can also get a restraining order for your child if someone is stalking them. If your child is under 18 or over 18 and has a developmental disability, you can seek an emergency temporary restraining order against the offender. The order will limit contact between the offender and your child, and the offender does not need to be convicted of stalking for you to get a restraining order.
Harassment: In-Person and Online
Harassment can include both unwanted communication and physical contact. It is one of the most common reasons people seek restraining orders, and it involves several scenarios that include:
- Someone making communications "anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language," that causes you annoyance or alarm
- Someone striking you, kicking you, shoving you, or conducting other "offensive touching," or threatening to do so.
- Someone engaging in any sort of "alarming conduct" meant to "seriously annoy" or alarm you
The crime is a petty disorderly persons offense unless the perpetrator is in prison or on probation or parole for a previous felony—in which case, it becomes a fourth-degree felony.
Along with in-person harassment, New Jersey also makes cyber harassment a crime. A person commits cyber-harassment if they use any form of electronic device or social networking site to communicate with others online to harass them. The elements of the crime are:
- They threaten to inflict injury or physical harm
- They intentionally post comments, suggestions, or requests that are lewd, indecent, or offensive to emotionally harm someone
- They threaten to commit a crime against a person or their property
The court will consider the nature of the harassment when deciding on the case, such as the message or post content, who received or could see the content, and the victim's age, among others.
Cyber-harassment is a fourth-degree offense unless the person is over 21 and is pretending to be a minor in order to harass a minor—then it becomes a third-degree offense.
Any minor under 16 arrested for cyber-harassment may be remanded to their parents or guardian and required to complete court-ordered anti-cyber-harassment classes or training. Their parents may also have to pay substantial fines, along with court costs and fees.
Military Protective Orders
Cases involving military personnel may also have special considerations, particularly if the servicemember was stationed overseas. One option you may have available is to seek a military protective order (MPO). An MPO can help you keep you and your children safe if you are the victims of domestic violence from a U.S. military servicemember.
MPOs can only be enforced on military bases and installations and only when the service member is "attached to the command that issued the order." If the servicemember transfers to a new command, the MPO will no longer be valid, but the command that issued the order may recommend the order transfer to the new command if necessary to protect the victim.
Other Predicate Actions That Serve as Grounds for Restraining Orders
Along with stalking and harassment, other predicate actions serve as grounds for obtaining protective orders, such as:
- Coercion – Trying to restrict someone else's freedom or threatening them to force them to engage in some act or conduct.
- Criminal restraint – Holding someone against their will. It doesn't need to be physical restraint. A person can use words to keep someone from leaving to be guilty.
- False Imprisonment – Substantially interfering with someone else's liberty and freedom, such as chaining or binding them or locking them in a room.
- Terroristic threats – Threatening to commit any violent crime to terrorize someone, or to evacuate a building, a place of assembly, or public transportation. It can also refer to making threats to cause "serious public inconvenience."
- Criminal mischief – Damaging or destroying someone else's property.
Any of these predicate actions could apply to your international restraining order case, and you should reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible to understand your rights and options for protecting yourself and bringing your abuser to justice.
Where Do I File a Restraining Order?
Provided you meet the statutory requirements and qualify to obtain a protective order, you can file your application for a restraining order in the New Jersey county where you reside. You may also apply in the county where the offensive act occurred.
What Is the Process of Getting a Restraining Order?
To begin the process of obtaining a restraining order, you will first go to the courthouse in your New Jersey county and get the necessary forms. You will need to fill out the forms carefully and describe in detail how the person injured or threatened you. Include as much descriptive language as possible and be thorough. Do not sign the document without checking with the clerk of court in case you need to have your signature notarized.
A judge will then review your application, and if they believe you are in imminent danger, they will issue a temporary restraining order (TRO).
A TRO will remain in effect until the final hearing, which is normally within ten days. If the judge grants your TRO, the police will serve the complaint to your abuser and notify them of the hearing date.
You should keep a copy of the TRO with you at all times, especially if you have to leave the state or country.
At the final hearing, you may present evidence of your abuser's actions, and they can offer a defense to the allegations. The judge will consider all evidence and determine whether to grant a final restraining order (FRO). The FRO will be a permanent protective order that only the court can change or terminate.
You can--and should--have an attorney with you at the final hearing. You should also have an attorney help you with obtaining the necessary forms and filling them out properly, especially if English is not your first language.
If your abuser violates the restraining order, they may be arrested and charged with either a third- or fourth-degree felony or disorderly persons misdemeanor.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, and your abuser was arrested, you may obtain a no-contact order against them. A judge may issue a no-contact order as a condition of the defendant's bail, particularly if the crime involved physical violence.
No-contact orders prohibit your abuser from having any contact with you, or your children, and if the offender violates the order, they can face criminal charges similar to violating a civil TRO or FRO.
Can I Get a Restraining Order Against Someone Who Lives in Another Country?
If you want to get a restraining order against a person in another country, your options will depend on various factors that include what country they live in, whether they are U.S. citizens, and what connection they have to you and the United States.
Many foreign countries have no restraining orders or will not honor a restraining order issued in the United States. However, Canada does. All Canadian provinces and territories have "reciprocity agreements" with the United States and New Jersey. Therefore, they will likely enforce your restraining order as well as your custody orders and other family law agreements.
Mexico and other countries may enforce protective orders in cases of domestic violence or abuse, human trafficking, and other cases that involve serious crimes.
However, a foreign country may have no jurisdiction to enforce your order, or they may simply refuse to honor any American court order or cooperate with the U.S. in any way. You need an attorney to review your case and contact the appropriate authorities in the country in question to determine your options.
How Can a Restraining Order Help Me?
Both a temporary and final restraining order will offer you the same protections and help keep you and your family safe. The terms of the restraining order can include:
- Your offender may not contact you or visit any locations you state in the order
- They may not possess weapons
- They may not contact you in any way, by phone or in writing. Also, they may not use a third party to contact you on their behalf.
If you have children with the alleged perpetrator and your case involves domestic violence, the restraining order could contain child custody provisions and other terms regarding contact with your children. The order may also mandate the perpetrator pay for your medical expenses resulting from their abuse.
In some cases, the court may allow the perpetrator to return to your residence to retrieve their personal belongings. They must then promptly leave the premises.
Restraining orders can do more than simply prohibit your abuser from contacting you. They are effective methods for helping to keep you and your children safe.
An important note for international cases: Most foreign countries are more likely to honor a final restraining order than a temporary one.
If the country has a reciprocal agreement with the United States, you may have your attorney contact the country's consulate office and see if they will enforce your restraining order.
For more information about how a restraining order can help you, contact an experienced attorney for a consultation.
How Does Someone Violate a Restraining Order?
Restraining orders are intended to keep an abuser or harasser away from their victims. As such, offenders can violate a restraining order by doing any of the following:
- Contacting you
- Subjecting you to further violence or harassment
- Entering your home
- Appearing in places or areas restricted by the order
- Failing to compensate you for financial or property losses
- Violating any child custody terms or agreements
Sometimes, defendants will claim they did not intend to violate the order or were not aware of its conditions. Such defenses may be valid in certain cases, but it will be up to the hearing judge to decide.
Proving a Defendant Violated a Restraining Order
To prove the defendant violated the restraining order, you can rely on an attorney for assistance. Your lawyer will have to show:
- The defendant knew of the restraining order against them and its restrictions
- They deliberately violated the order
So even if the defendant "accidentally" bumped into you in a public place not restricted by the order, they can still face charges if the prosecution can show they acted deliberately.
Domestic violence restraining orders are often complex, with many nuances to consider. If a defendant violates a domestic violence restraining order and truly feels it was in error, they should contact a family law attorney immediately for help.
Penalties For Violating Restraining Orders
If you violate a New Jersey restraining order, you can face any one of several charges. In most cases, it is a fourth-degree felony. Violating a restraining order is legally a form of criminal contempt of a court order, and you can get up to 18 months in jail along with fines up to $10,000.
Penalties also double for second and subsequent violations. In the case of cyber-harassment, for instance, a defendant could be charged each time they posted something harassing or offensive online.
As stated above, online harassment can be prosecuted as either a fourth- or third-degree felony. If convicted of a third-degree offense, you could receive three to five years in prison and fines up to $35,000.
Defenses for Violating a Restraining Order
If you face charges for violating a restraining order, remember that an accusation does not mean you are automatically guilty. The plaintiff will still have to prove you deliberately violated the order to convict you, and you have the right to defend yourself.
The plaintiff will have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and you likely have options for mounting an effective defense.
One defense option is due process, which means you were properly served the order and had a chance to answer the allegations. If you didn't know about the order when you committed the alleged violation, your attorney might move to have the court dismiss your case and drop the charges.
To find out your options, you need to consult an attorney who has both family law and criminal defense experience to advise you of your options and help you build a compelling defense.
Issues with Enforcing a New Jersey Restraining Order in Another Country
Sometimes, it can be very challenging to enforce your New Jersey restraining order in another country. Even if the country where your abuser lives has a reciprocal agreement with the United States, they may not be able to enforce your order due to jurisdiction. Jurisdiction refers to the court's authority in the location the person currently resides. All states in the U.S. must honor restraining orders issued in other U.S. states and territories, but the same is not necessarily true for other countries.
Another common issue with enforcing restraining orders internationally has to do with the service of process. In New Jersey, for instance, a police officer or sheriff's deputy will serve the perpetrator with papers that inform them of the restraining order and give them the time and date of the hearing. Under due process, the perpetrator must have an opportunity to answer the allegations and defend themselves at the final hearing.
If your abuser lives in a foreign country or has gone there to avoid prosecution, it will be very difficult to serve them with your order and likely even harder to make them come back to America for the final hearing. There are companies that will perform international service of process, but there is no guarantee they will be able to locate your abuser.
One option you and your attorney can look into is to prepare and submit letters of rogatory. Offered by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, letters rogatory serve as "the customary means of obtaining judicial assistance from overseas in the absence of a treaty or other agreement."
With letters rogatory, you can request a court in another country to perform an act so long as the act does not interfere with that country's sovereignty or violate any of the country's laws. They can sometimes be effective in officially conducting service of process to offenders living outside the U.S. However, it can take some time to execute letters rogatory, often a year or more, because they are transmitted through diplomatic channels.
How Filing Criminal Charges Can Help Your Case
Since violating a restraining order is a criminal act--and considering your abuser likely broke the law in abusing, stalking, or harassing you in the first place--one option you may have is to file criminal charges against the offender.
The United States has extradition treaties with many foreign countries, and the process allows one country to request the surrender of a person in another country who is wanted for criminal prosecution and sentencing.
The extradition process depends largely on the country in question, and not all countries have extradition treaties with the U.S. Also, you cannot, as a private individual, request the extradition of a person in a foreign country.
The U.S. State Department's Office of International Affairs deals with extradition treaty matters, and the office will work with federal prosecutors to prepare the extradition request and then submit the request through the proper diplomatic channels.
Although the process can take months or years, it may be your only way to ensure your abuser stops their abuse or harassment and hold them accountable for their actions. Also, a foreign country may take cases of serious criminal conduct more seriously and honor the extradition request more than they would a restraining order.
However, you may face challenges in bringing criminal charges that qualify for extradition, particularly if the offense is only a misdemeanor. Nevertheless, you should discuss the possibility with your attorney and follow their suggestions.
I Have a Restraining Order From Another Country. Will the U.S. Enforce It?
Although some states, like Washington, Colorado, and Oregon, expressly state they will honor a foreign restraining order, New Jersey is not so clear.
New Jersey will honor a restraining order from another state, territory, or tribal reservation, and the state's code references federal law enacted under the 1994 Violence Against Women's Act to enforce with "full faith and credit" any domestic violence protective orders issued in "sister states" as long as they meet the following criteria:
- The court had jurisdiction over the parties and the matter of the law in question
- The order was issued to prevent violence or threats, harassment, or sexual violence against you—or to prohibit the offender from coming near you
- The defendant was provided "reasonable notice and opportunity to heard"
For ex parte temporary or emergency restraining orders, the defendant must be given "notice and opportunity to be heard" within a "reasonable time" after the court issues the order.
Incidentally, it doesn't matter if the person actually showed up for the hearing, only that they knew about it and were given the opportunity.
In all likelihood, authorities in New Jersey will assist you with enforcing your foreign restraining order, provided they have jurisdiction. The situation will likely require federal involvement, however, and you need to consult an attorney to find out your options.
International Parental Child Abductions and Custody Issues
If your situation involves your children and issues with the child's other parent, you can rest assured that numerous federal and international laws exist to protect you and your children.
The U.S. Department of State has two sets of statutes that govern child safety and abduction issues: Safety And Protection of Minors and International Parental Child Abduction (7 Fam 1700 and 7 Fam 1710).
These statutes provide all federal policies concerning children being wrongfully removed or retained outside of their native country and promptly returned until custody issues can be resolved.
The statutes establish the U.S. Government's authority to "provide consular services in international parental child abduction cases," and the State Department honors various international treaties, such as the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) and The Hague Convention.
The statutes also define U.S. laws, regulations, and executive orders concerning international child abductions and custody issues. A subsection states, "While these laws are often enforceable only within the United States, they may have [an] impact on the status of a child and a taking parent outside the United States."
Several federal laws involve keeping children safe and in the best environment possible. They include:
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) – Requires all state courts to recognize and adjudicate "child custody determinations."
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) – This law enhanced the UCCJA by "granting exclusive continuing jurisdiction" to the child's "home state." It also clarifies limits on emergency jurisdiction and allows courts in the U.S. to honor "custody orders issued by courts outside the United States."
- The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 – This law allows authorities to issue Federal Fugitive Felony Warrants in cases of parental kidnapping if the abductor fled the state or U.S. to avoid prosecution. It also allows authorities to locate abducted children or their parents through the Department of Health and Human Services or the Federal Parent Locator Service.
- The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) - This law makes it a felony to remove a child younger than 16 from the U.S., or keep them outside the U.S., to intentionally obstruct "a lawful exercise of parental rights."
- The International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) – This law provides procedures to file Hague Convention cases in U.S. courts. It also allows the U.S. Central Authority to use federal databases and other methods to locate abducted children.
- The International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) – Establishes procedures for the prompt return of abducted children and to help prevent international abductions.
- The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) – This law provides clear standards to exercise jurisdiction over out-of-state and international child custody cases.
- The Extradition Treaties Interpretation Act of 1998 – This law authorizes American authorities to extradite parties accused of international parental kidnapping, provided the country has an extradition treaty with the U.S.
- The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction - An international treaty and one that most countries use. It provides legal avenues and guidelines for authorities to secure "the prompt return of wrongfully removed or retained children" to their native country, where a jurisdictional court can determine custody issues.
The federal government has other laws and treaties that involve the protection of children and their safe return to their country of origin. One is the Two-Parent Consent Law, which requires both parents to authorize a child's passport if the child is under 16. Your child cannot legally enter another country without a passport, so this can be an effective method for ensuring the other parent doesn't abduct your child and take them to Canada, Mexico, or some other foreign country.
Other Considerations Concerning International Parental Child Abduction
International parental child abduction can fall into several scenarios:
- You and your spouse are both U.S. citizens, and they take the children to a foreign country without your consent
- You are divorced and your spouse takes your children in violation of your custody agreement
- You and your spouse both live in the U.S. as immigrants, and they took the children back to their home country without your consent
- You are living in a foreign country as an ex-pat and your spouse is a citizen of the country, and you want to bring your children to the U.S.
- You and your spouse are both citizens of a foreign country, and you want to bring your children to America to escape your spouse's abuse
Whatever your reasons and circumstances for wanting to keep your children safe, you should keep the following things in mind:
- If you are planning to move overseas, you should understand that you and your child could be "trapped" there if the other parent refuses to allow you to bring them back to the United States. You may hate living in the foreign country, but you can face serious criminal charges if you
"wrongfully remove" your child when after it has been established that the child is a "habitual resident" of the country.
- If you are living in a foreign country with your child's other parent and they abuse you, you cannot simply pack up with your children and leave the country. You are the one who can get in trouble, not them. You could be arrested at the airport before you even leave, or if you make it to the U.S., you will likely have to return your children and pay for the other parent's travel costs, legal fees, etc.
- The courts in the foreign country will likely have primary jurisdiction over your case, not the United States. The rules and treaties governing international custody matters are complex, and sometimes, the U.S. government will defer all matters to the foreign court. Related to this, you will have to comply with all applicable laws in the foreign country, and you can't rely on U.S. laws to have any bearing on your case.
- Your American court order may have no bearing. Just because you have a valid court order from the U.S. does not mean the other country will honor it, regardless of whether they are part of an international treaty.
- Some foreign countries have very different divorce laws than the United States. Their laws regarding divorce and child custody may be unclear or nonexistent when dealing with foreigners. Also, their laws will likely supersede any American laws concerning the matter.
- You must also be aware of the country's exit controls, visa rules, and local laws. The laws will dictate aspects of a parent leaving or re-entering the country with their child and what rights they have as a parent. For instance, many South American countries require you to have a notarized document from the other parent giving you consent to leave the country with the children. Some countries are heavily male-dominated and have virtually no rights for women or mothers. You may have no custody rights, to begin with, or the father/husband can strip you of your custody if you move to the U.S., for instance, and you have no power to stop it or reverse it.
Also, consider this example:
You're a U.S. citizen and still pregnant and living in a foreign country. You are in an abusive relationship or know that you do not want you or your child to live in the country permanently. Perhaps you are already divorced or plan to be. In either event, you will want to leave before the baby is born.
Just like the U.S., many countries consider children born on their soil as citizens. Also, The Hague Convention will likely use the country in which the child was born as their" habitual residence." This could place you in a very tough position if later you want to try to bring them back to the U.S.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn't assume foreign authorities won't work with you and try to help. Many people believe that a foreign country will always side with the parent who is a citizen, but this is not always the case. Particularly when it comes to the safety and welfare of children, many foreign agencies will cooperate as much as they can.
If you do have to leave the United States, it is a good idea to keep a legal residence here. Don't sell your house or break your lease. If you have permanent residency in the U.S., and New Jersey specifically, it will be much easier to have American authorities hold jurisdiction over your case and enforce any necessary actions.
Defenses for Taking Your Children Out of the United States
The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKA) provides several affirmative defenses for parents who take their children out of the United States:
- They had legal custody and rights to commit the action, pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA)
- They were fleeing an incidence or pattern of domestic violence
- They had legal physical custody of the child but could not return the child due to circumstances beyond their control
For number 3, the parent must have "made reasonable attempts to notify the other parent" of the circumstances and return the child as soon as possible.
Consult an Experienced Attorney for Help
Situations involving international restraining orders are extremely complex, and the situation becomes even more involved—and often more critical to resolve—when children are involved.
You want an attorney with experience in New Jersey family law, as well as international family law. Although restraining orders are legally civil matters, you want an attorney with knowledge of criminal law since restraining order violations have a criminal element. You certainly want an experienced criminal defense attorney if you face charges for violating a restraining order to help you fight for your rights and future.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Family Law and Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm offer the best of all possible worlds. We have extensive knowledge of New Jersey and international family and child custody laws, and we have many years of experience defending clients against a wide range of state and federal charges.
No matter your situation, you can rely on us to carefully review your case and advise you of your options. We will help you determine the best course of action, and we will fight hard each step of the way to help you get the favorable results you expect and deserve.