Advocacy from Our Dedicated Livingston Matrimonial & Family Lawyers
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act was enacted in 1991 to effectuate the Legislature’s intent “to assure the victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse the law can provide”. See N.J.S.A. 2C:25-18.
Under the Act, “victim” is defined as:
- Any individual 18 years old or older (or an emancipated minor) who has been harmed by domestic violence perpetrated by a spouse, former spouse, or any current or former member of their household.
- Any individual (regardless of age) who has been subjected to domestic violence by an individual with whom they have a child with or with whom they will have a child with (if one party is pregnant).
- Any individual who has been subjected to domestic violence by an individual with whom they've been dating.
See N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(d)
If you are currently facing a divorce or family law matter which involves incidents or allegations of domestic violence, Livingston matrimonial attorneys can help. Call us at (973) 878-4373 today.
Which Acts Are Considered "Domestic Violence?"
The Statute further provides classifications of offenses which will be considered “domestic violence." This encompasses many acts that are recognized in our criminal code, however, when the incident qualifies as domestic violence, there are added legal considerations.
These acts include:
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal restraint
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Criminal sexual contact
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespass
- Harassment N
- Criminal coercion
- Various other offenses
To obtain protection under the Act, a victim of domestic violence must file a Complaint with either the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part or, alternatively, the appropriate municipal court. If it appears to the Court that the complainant is in danger of domestic violence, they will be granted a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) which is issued on an “ex parte” basis (without notice to the opposing party). The TRO will remain in effect until the Court entertains a hearing (which is supposed to occur within 10 days) on the matter and determines whether or not permanent restraints are necessary.
Silver v. Silver
In Silver v. Silver, 387 N.J. Super. 112 (App. Div. 2006), the Appellate Division set forth a two-prong standard to be applied by the Court in assessing whether to award permanent restraints in the form of a Final Restraining Order (“FRO”):
First, “the judge must determine whether the plaintiff has proven, by a preponderance of the credible evidence” that one or more of the predicate acts of domestic violence as enumerated in the statute has occurred. Secondly, if the first prong is satisfied, the Court must assess whether a restraining order is necessary to protect the victim “from an immediate danger or to prevent further abuse”.
Id. at 125-126.
In the event an FRO is granted, the Court has the authority not only to restrain the defendant from further acts of domestic violence but to grant the victim exclusive possession of the parties’ residence (regardless of how same is titled) or, alternatively, require the defendant to pay the victim’s rent at a residence other than that previously shared by the parties. The Court may further address issues of custody and parenting time, as well as temporary support and even compensatory and/or punitive damages.
Call (973) 878-4373 Today
As set forth above, the protections of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act are far-reaching and can have profound consequences for the defendant. If you believe that you require the protection of a restraining order or, conversely, if an order has been wrongfully entered against you, it is highly advised you seek experienced, knowledgeable counsel today.
Contact Ziegler, Zemsky & Resnick today to request a case evaluation with our team.