Blog

How does New Jersey treat victims of domestic violence?

Wife beating had been a fact of life for centuries. Marital abuse was traditionally acceptable and early common law recognized a husband’s right to beat his wife. Domestic violence was considered proper discipline. An old English proverb “A woman, a horse, a hickory tree, the more you beat ‘em the better they be” was the sentiment many years ago. This anecdote was further developed into a “rule of thumb” giving husbands the right to beat their wives with a stick “no thicker than his thumb.”

By the late 1800’s, the law began to shift away from permitting this behavior. Today, domestic violence is a crime in New Jersey. It is illegal to assault, rape, stalk or harass one’s spouse. In addition, the New Jersey Legislature has provided civil protection for victims (male or female) of violence who are in a “domestic” relationship with their abusers.  These civil protections came to life by the 1982 enactment of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.

By adopting the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, the Legislature declared that domestic violence is a serious crime against society. It also recognized that there are thousands of persons in New Jersey who are regularly beaten, tortured and even killed by their spouses or person they live with.

Restraining Orders

In New Jersey, a domestic violence victim can immediately petition the Court on an emergent basis for a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”).  If violence occurs in the evening hours, the police department contacts the local municipal court Judge.  The Judge can issue a TRO.

TROs are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and can:

  • Provide that the abuser not return to the scene of the violence
  • Restrain the abuser from having any contact or communication whatsoever with the victim
  • Can also forbid the abuser from possessing any firearms

Within 10 days of the issuance of the TRO, a hearing is held to determine if the TRO should be made permanent.  Once permanent, a Final Restraining Order is entered. The victim must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that an act of domestic violence has occurred. If that burden is not met, the TRO is dismissed. When the burden is met, the Final Restraining Order is entered. This Order is powerful because the abuser is restrained from having any contact or communication with the victim. If there are children involved, a presumption arises in favor of the victim having custody of the children. The victim is generally awarded exclusive use and occupancy of the residence. Financial remedies and relief are also available to the victim.

Criminal Implications

It is considered contempt of court when an abuser violates the Restraining Order.  Therefore, the abuser is arrested. The Prosecutor’s office prosecutes the abuser under the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. If found guilty of contempt, the abuser faces significant consequences including potential jail time, fines and costs.

The abuser is sentenced to a mandatory 30 day jail sentence when found guilty of violating a Restraining Order for the second time.

New Jersey takes domestic violence very seriously and has attempted to reach victims suffering from domestic violence.

If you have questions about this post or any other family law matter, please contact me at jlawrence@lawlawfirm.com.

Back to Blog
SHARE THIS POST:

Related Posts

Blog
When Should You File for Divorce?

Can Timing Affect Your Divorce Filing? When people decide to divorce, they may be tempted to file right away to begin the proceedings. After all, the faster the papers are filed, the more likely it is that the divorce will be finalized quickly. However, it is important to remember that divorce is not only a…

Read More
Blog
Divorce Negotiations and Stock Options

How Executive Compensation Could Affect Your Divorce Settlement For New Jersey couples with significant financial assets, several contentious issues may arise during divorce negotiations. Property division and alimony decisions can be affected by various types of assets and compensation, including non-traditional income such as executive compensation or employee incentives. A New Jersey divorce lawyer can…

Read More
Blog
New Jersey Child Custody and Cannabis Use

How Could Marijuana Affect Your Child Custody Case? New Jersey parents may be concerned about how cannabis consumption could affect their child custody case, especially after the marijuana legalization legislation that went into effect in 2021. While substance use or abuse may be considered by the family courts when determining child custody and parental rights,…

Read More
Blog
When Does Domestic Violence Law Apply in NJ?

Domestic Violence in New Jersey Family Law Domestic violence is a serious concern that poses a major threat to the health, lives and welfare of New Jersey residents, and it can be an important issue in family law matters. New Jersey’s state law on domestic violence, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, is intended to…

Read More
Blog
Key Tasks to Deal With After Divorce

What to Do After Your Divorce Divorce in New Jersey can be a challenging experience on multiple levels, from negotiating or litigating a solution to dealing with the emotional fallout. However, there are also important practical steps for you to take after your divorce in order to prepare for the future. These are some of…

Read More
Blog
How New Jersey Courts are Handling Litigation

COVID-19 Brings Changes to Litigation in New Jersey  The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of life in New Jersey, and the courtroom and litigation processes are no exceptions. If you are considering a divorce, you may wonder how the pandemic might affect the scheduling and process of your case. Some of the changes that…

Read More

Disclaimer and information can be found here, including links to descriptions and selection methodologies. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Call Now ButtonCall Us