Domestic violence and restraining order FAQs: When you or a friend or family member is impacted by domestic violence or abuse, you have questions. What is a restraining order? How can I get a restraining order in New Jersey? How do I get help for domestic violence or abuse? And more. We have taken all of the questions we are frequently asked and have answered them in written format, below. Additionally, please view our video FAQs on domestic violence issues.
Restraining Order FAQs
How do I know that I need a restraining order?
If you are in fear for your safety or the safety of your children because of another’s words or actions, you should consider a restraining order. It is important to note that civil restraining orders through the family court only apply to certain relationships such as dating partners, spouses or family members residing together. If you are being abused by someone who is not a close relation, you must pursue restraints through the criminal courts.
How do I know that the abuser knows about the restraining order?
Once you obtain your temporary restraining order, that order is served upon the other party by the sheriff or police. They then inform the court and you that the order has been served.
I obtained a temporary and/or final restraining order, but I have changed my mind and want to drop it. What do I do?
If you wish to drop the restraining order, you must return to the domestic violence unit at your local courthouse and advise them that you do not wish to pursue a final restraining order or that you want to dismiss your FRO. You will be interviewed to make sure that you are not being forced or pressured by anyone to dismiss the restraining order. You will then go before a judge who will also question you to make sure that you really want to dismiss the restraining order. If the judge is satisfied that you are not being threatened or coerced, he or she will enter an order of dismissal. The restraints are then dissolved.
I have a Temporary Restraining Order against my boyfriend that I want to drop. I have a court date tomorrow for the Final Restraining Order hearing. What should I do?
You should appear in court tomorrow. When you get there, tell the court staff that you do not want to proceed with the hearing and that you would like to dismiss your Temporary Restraining Order. The judge will ask you several questions on the record about your willingness to dismiss your restraining order to be sure that you are not being forced, threatened or coerced to dismiss the TRO.
What are civil restraints?
Civil restrains are an alternative to final restraining orders. You and the defendant can enter into an agreement that states that neither of you will abuse, harass or bother the other any longer. This type of restraint is not as serious as a restraining order and violating the agreement does not lead to the defendant being arrested, as with a restraining order. Instead, if the person abuses you again, you would have to file a motion with the court to enforce the agreement and wait for your court date to explain to the judge what happened. The penalty is then up to the judge. It is important to state that you must have some other type of family court case (such as a custody case) for civil restraints to be an option. It is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney regarding this alternative.
What do I have to prove in order to get a Final Restraining Order? I have a hearing next week.
In order to have your current Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) converted to a Final Restraining Order, or FRO, you have to prove two things to the judge: 1. That the act of domestic violence on which the TRO is based actually happened and 2. That you have an ongoing need for protection from your abuser. Once you prove the act of domestic violence occurred, you can talk about past incidents of domestic violence as evidence that you need continued restraint against your abuser. If you do not prove your case, you do will not receive the FRO, and the TRO will be dismissed. The FRO hearing can get complicated. Consider having an experienced family attorney represent you.
Can my ex be ordered to pay my legal fees if I get my FRO?
Yes. If the judge rules in your favor after your Final Restraining Order hearing and you obtain the FRO, the judge is free to make decisions about counsel fees and other issues such as parenting time or custody. But, if you are not awarded the FRO, your TRO will be dismissed by the judge and you will not be awarded counsel fees.
I live in New Jersey, but the person who is stalking me is an ex-boyfriend who lives in Florida. I have a hearing for a permanent restraining order in Florida next week, but I do not have the money to travel to Florida. Can I appear via telephone or can I have the hearing here in New Jersey?
You would need to contact a Florida attorney who can advise you on whether or not the courts in Florida would be willing to have you testify in court over the telephone. As far as having the hearing here in New Jersey, you would have to prove that New Jersey has jurisdiction to hear the matter and you would need to request a transfer of venue. This probably will not happen by next week.