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Restraining Orders

When there is an issue of abuse or domestic violence, a viable option for victims might be to seek a NJ restraining order. This order prevents further injury or harm by someone who has harmed either a family member, household member, someone in a dating relationship, or a co-parent. The person does not need to be someone who is currently living in the same home or in a current relationship with the victim. This article will provide some basic information and tips on how to get a NJ restraining order.

Kinds of Restraining Orders

When you initially ask for a restraining order, you can get either a temporary restraining order or a final restraining order. The temporary restraining, or TRO, will be granted by a judge if they believe it is necessary to protect your health, well-being, or even your life. The order will last until the final hearing is set – usually about 10 days. The TRO is an ex parte hearing, which means it will just be one party and the judge, without any notice to the other party. The final restraining order has a full hearing, where both parties will be able to present their side of the story. These can last forever, or until the court changes or terminates the order.

Powers of NJ Restraining Orders

Restraining orders in New Jersey are a powerful tool. They can prevent the abuser from having weapons, going in or near your house or place or work, award custody to the victim, and even offer monetary relief to the victim if the judge determines the abuser needs to support the victim and any shared children, such as paying rent. It will also restrain them from contacting you, by telephone or in writing, or even through third parties such as family members of employers. The judge has a lot of discretion in what they can order, as long as it is based on a need to protect the victim from further harm.

Steps for how to Get a NJ Restraining Order 

The first step you must take after deciding you want a restraining order is to file a complaint with the courthouse. You will need to file in the county where you live, in the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court. If you need to file right away and the court house is closed, you might be able to file for a restraining order at the local police station. Either way, you’ll usually need some form of photo I.D. Any information you know about the abuser, such as their address, contact information, the kind of car they drive and whether they possess any weapons, will be helpful in your case.

The clerk will give you the appropriate forms to fill out when requesting a NJ restraining order. Fill out the forms carefully, and be detailed when describing how the abuser harmed you. If applicable, use words like “kicked,” or “punched,” and if the abuser said anything – especially if it was threatening – include these in your description as well. Always be truthful, and do not sign it until you have shown it to a clerk of court. This is so they can ensure that you have filled things out appropriate, and you can ask any questions, although they cannot give you any legal advice. They may also require you to sign the form in front of a notary.

Next, your form will go to a judge. They will read the form, and if they believe you could be in danger, they will sign the TRO. That is why it is so important to be specific and detailed in describing the abuser’s actions. If the TRO is granted, then the abuser will be served with it by a police officer.

Finally, you and the abuser will attend the final hearing. This can be very intimidating, but they have a constitutional right to confront their accuser. Therefore, you might want to get an attorney who understands how to handle a restraining order in New Jersey. At this hearing, both parties will get the chance to testify in court, present witnesses and evidence to prove that the abuser has committed harm against a victim. If you took photos of any injuries or damage the abuser harmed, bring them with you. The victim must absolutely attend the hearing, otherwise, the restraining order will expire and the process must start over. If the abuser fails to show, the judge might push the hearing back, but you must be sure to ask for an extension of the current TRO. Otherwise, it expires, and you could be without adequate protection from the abuser.


You will want to make several copies of the order so you can put your hands on it easily. Think about keeping a copy at home, in your car, at your workplace, and if you have children, make sure their school or daycare also has a copy so that they are kept in the loop. Also take caution with your contact information. Use a P.O. Box for correspondence so you are not giving out your address if you changed it, change your locks, invest in a security system and get a good system of support with friends and family. If the order is violated, first call the police. The police can arrest the abuser in many cases, where they can face criminal contempt charges, which include fines and potentially even jail time. If the restraining order is final, then it is not easy to get it dissolved, which is purposeful to protect the victims of domestic violence. If the victim requests a dissolution of the order, then the judge is entitled to hold a hearing and question each party to ensure the victim has not been threatened or coerced to remove it. If the abuse files the order, then the judge has to determine if both parties consent to the order, the current relationship between the victim and abuser, whether the victim is still afraid, and any rehabilitative steps the abuser has taken, such as attending counseling, or seeking rehabilitative treatment if substance abuse was a problem.

If you have more questions on how to get a NJ restraining order, contact the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a consultation at 201-845-7400. With over 20 years of experience, he can guide you through every family law issue you might have.

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