What to Consider When Filing a Civil Temporary Restraining Order

By: Amanda Rasheed, Esq. and Kristi Intorre, Esq.

As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month we would like to provide basic information on filing a Civil Temporary Restraining Order.   

For further information, please contact one of the attorneys in our Divorce and Family Law Practice Group.

Who May File for a Temporary Restraining Order?

A victim under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is defined as a person over the age of eighteen (18) and must have “been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other person who is a present household member or at any time a household member.”  N.J.S.A. 2C:2519(d).  The Act is meant to be inclusive.  This means that couples who live together or who have lived together, who are in a dating relationship or who have dated, who have a child in common or who are expecting a child in common qualify as victims under the Act.  Additionally family members that live together or who have lived together and roommates also qualify as victims. 

The alleged abuser may also file for a cross Temporary Restraining Order against the alleged victim.

When to File for a Temporary Restraining Order?

Once a predicate act has been committed by the abuser, a victim should seek to file a Temporary Restraining Order as soon as possible.

Where to Obtain a Temporary Restraining Order?

A victim may obtain a Temporary Restraining Order at their local courthouse or police station.  Superior courthouses accept applications from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and the police stations accept applications at all times, including weekends. 

What does a Temporary Restraining Order Do?

A Temporary Restraining Order may: 1) bar the defendant from the victim’s home (even if they live together), place of work, school, or other locations frequently visited; 2) require that a certain distance be maintained between the parties; prevent contact between the parties and other relevant or interested persons; 3) grant sole custody of the children to the victim; 4) order temporary support until the matter is formally addressed by the Court at a trial for a Final Restraining Order; and 5) may require a warrant to search for and remove any firearms or other weapons in the abuser’s possession.  Victims may include other persons in their application, such as the parties’ children, family members, or other interested persons.

Can a Temporary Restraining Order by Amended?

Yes.  Depending upon the circumstances of the case, a temporary parenting time schedule and Order for support may be put in place.  The locations and/or persons that are listed in the Temporary Restraining Order may be modified.  A victim may also amender the Temporary Restraining Order to include prior history of domestic violence and additional predicate acts, as listed below. 

What to Include in an Application for a Temporary Restraining Order?

In order to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order the victim must allege that one (1) or more predicate acts set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(a) took place.  These include:

  1. Criminal Homicide (N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1);
  2. Assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1);
  3. Terroristic threats (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3);
  4. Kidnapping (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1);
  5. Criminal restraint (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-2);
  6. False imprisonment (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-3);
  7. Sexual assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2);
  8. Criminal sexual assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3);
  9. Lewdness (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4);
  10. Criminal mischief (N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3);
  11. Burglary (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2);
  12. Criminal Trespass (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3);
  13. Harassment (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4);
  14. Stalking (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10);
  15. Criminal coercion (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5);
  16. Robbery (N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1);
  17. Contempt of domestic violence pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9(b);
  18. Any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person protected under the act N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17; and
  19. Cyber-harassment (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4.1).

It is important to include any and all past instances of domestic violence, even if there is no prior report for same.  A victim is never prohibited from filing for a Temporary Restraining Order, even if he or she filed for one in the past and ultimately did not go forward with a Final Restraining Order. 

What Happens after the Temporary Restraining Order is filed?

The abuser will be served with the Temporary Restraining Order and a trial for a Final Restraining Order will be scheduled shortly thereafter.

If you have any further questions about a civil temporary restraining order in New Jersey, don’t hesitate to contact Hackensack, NJ attorneys at Harwood Lloyd, LLC.