Domestic Violence Act

Westfield and Summit Attorneys Knowledgeable in New Jersey Family Law Matters

Domestic violence is a serious and important issue. In New Jersey, the legislature has enacted laws with a goal of providing additional protections to the victims of abuse and neglect. At Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, our New Jersey family law lawyers can provide people throughout the state with honest, attentive legal guidance. We understand that the circumstances surrounding a divorce are a sensitive matter, and we have experience representing clients in a wide range of domestic issues, including protective orders, child custody, and divorce.

The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act

New Jersey enacted the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act in 1991, recognizing that in situations of abuse by family members, the responses of law enforcement and judicial courts were not necessarily meeting the needs of society’s most vulnerable groups. Individuals specifically protected by the Act include any person age 18 or over or any emancipated minor who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or another member of the household. The law also covers individuals who, regardless of age, have been subjected to domestic violence by a current or former dating partner over the age of 18, or by the parent of their child or unborn child. Domestic violence includes crimes of harassment, assault, terroristic threats, false imprisonment, sexual assault and criminal sexual contact, burglary, criminal trespass, stalking, lewdness, criminal restraint, and homicide.

Significantly, the Act provides victims of domestic violence with the right to file a criminal complaint against the abuser, as well as the right to seek civil relief in the form of temporary and permanent restraining orders. A restraining order is issued by a court to protect a victim of domestic violence, and its terms will vary according to the circumstances of each case. Typically, the process involves an interview and hearing with a member of the court, which may issue a temporary restraining order. The victim will then return for another hearing, at which the defendant will be present, and the court will determine whether to issue a final restraining order. The order will contain one part addressing any restraints against contact, and another part addressing financial and parenting matters.

If a judge finds that domestic violence occurred, the defendant may be prevented from entering the victim’s residence or place of employment, as well as having any form of electronic, written, or spoken contact with the victim. In addition, the defendant may be prohibited from possessing weapons and may be required to attend counseling sessions. The victim may be awarded exclusive possession of the parties’ home and temporary custody of the children. In New Jersey, final restraining orders do not expire, and they are enforceable in every state.

Seek Guidance from a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer

The safety of your children and you is perhaps the most fundamental concern involved in any separation or divorce proceeding. The attorneys at Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper represent individuals in many New Jersey communities who are navigating divorce, child custody, alimony, and other family law matters. We also maintain offices in Summit, Westfield and Red Bank from which we can assists clients in areas throughout Morris, Hudson, Bergen, Essex, Somerset, and Warren Counties. To discuss your situation with a knowledgeable divorce attorney, contact us at (908) 233-6800 or online and schedule a free consultation.