FAQs: Restraining Order in NJ Part II

Who can File for a Restraining Order in NJ?

The victim must be over the age of 18 or an emancipated minor. Emancipated minors include someone who is married, is in the military, has a child or is pregnant, or has otherwise been determined by a court or other agency that they are emancipated. They must have suffered violence from a current or former spouse or household member, a person with whom they have had a dating relationship or someone they are expecting a child with or have a child with.

Who is Considered to be a Member of the Household Under the New Jersey Domestic Violence Statute?

It's pretty clear that people who are members of the same family, live under the same roof, share bills and meals together would be members of the same household. But not every situation is so clear. Courts have held that boarders in a rooming house were household members. The parties shared a common bathroom and kitchen but had separate, locked members. The court determined that the shared bathroom (where the sexual attack occurred) and the facts their paths were likely to cross meant the victim was likely to experience harm from the abuser; therefore, she had the standing to file a restraining order. Another case determined that siblings who had not lived under the same roof in years were members of the same household in light of the violent relationship between the two, and the fact they used to live together.

What Counts as a ‘Terroristic Threat’ Under the NJ Domestic Violence Statute?

To get a restraining order in NJ, the abuser must have committed at least one of the crimes listed in the statute. While harassment is a commonly pled ground for victims of domestic violence, many times they will also claim a terroristic threat. This includes threats of harming the victim, including threats to kill them, or a related person (such as their new boyfriend or girlfriend, or child). Additionally, threatening damage to property that the victim owns has also been considered a terroristic threat. The fear felt by the victim must be reasonable, and it should be very real threats, not utterances made in the heat of the moment while arguing.

How do I Know Whether the Threats or Arguments are Enough to Warrant a Restraining Order in New Jersey?

This is a question that is difficult to answer generally, as in most cases and relationships, the manner of arguing is hugely dependent on the circumstances and patterns of the couple. One case, Peranio v Peranio, has developed a rule of thumb to determine the difference between a basic argument and domestic violence. In that case, the couple is going through a divorce and the wife lives in the marital residence. The husband visited to look at the water damage in the basement, and he noticed that his personal items were no longer there. They had an argument, and the husband said ‘I’ll bury you’ to his wife. She said this was harassment, while he said he meant that he’d bury her in court through the legal process. The court agreed with the husband because they found that the husband did not say this to harass the wife. There was no history of threats, harassment or abuse between the parties when this was said.

What if my Ex has Filed a Restraining Order Against me in New Jersey When They Started the Whole Thing?

Unfortunately, this is very common, and it is up to the judges to determine if the violent incident is likely to happen again and subject the victim to ongoing harm. That said, hearings do not occur in a vacuum. In one case, the parties broke up and shared 2 children. The girlfriend left the apartment and took some items from the home, including a cell phone, a vehicle, and a PlayStation. During one exchange with the kids, the boyfriend grabbed his ex’s cell phone to confirm if she’d been seeing anyone else. She had, so he wanted the Buick and PlayStation. He then threw a brick at her windshield, breaking it. In return, the girlfriend threw a brick at his car – as well as the PlayStation. The boyfriend then filed a restraining order. The judge found that violent provocation by one party should be considered, and while the girlfriend did act violently, it was in response to her ex’s actions, she was no more violent than he had been, and by and large, their relationship had been peaceful and cooperative. Of course, hiring a lawyer to help you defend against any untrue claims is always the best course of action for you to take.

What if my Ex-Partner isn’t Harassing me Directly, but is Contacting my Boss in New Jersey?

New Jersey courts have accepted the premise that acts of economic duress and harassment fall under the purview of the Domestic Violence statute and could warrant the issuance of a restraining order in NJ, depending on the facts and circumstances. Some of the actions this could include are contacting the victim’s workplace and trying to get them terminated by making false allegations or sharing humiliating, personal information about them; contacting their employer and trying to damage their job stability or job position; and appearing uninvited, repeatedly, at their job and causing a disruption to the employment, performance or business process. The statute is aimed not just at physical abuse, but any attempt to exert control over the victim, including through financial abuse. Overall, the courts have taken a broad approach in line with the purpose of the legislation to address violence which occurs in a family-like setting.

Furthermore, see Restraining Order in NJ: Frequently Asked Questions – Part 1 and Restraining Order in NJ: Frequently Asked Questions – Part 3. If you have questions about obtaining or defending against a restraining order in NJ, the law offices of Peter Van Aulen are standing by, ready to help you. Call us today for a free, initial consultation at 201-845-7400.

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