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Frequently Asked Questions With Restraining Orders

Individuals who are the victims of domestic violence often apply for a temporary restraining order against their spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, domestic partner, or another defendant that falls under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. In order to succeed on an application for a temporary restraining order, the plaintiff/victim must demonstrate that an act of domestic violence was committed and that the order is necessary to protect the life, health or well-being of the victim.

What Relief Can Be Granted In A Temporary Restraining Order?

Temporary restraining orders can seriously interfere with the life of an individual against whom it is issued.  First, the order can bar or restrict a person from owning a firearm of any kind.  An order can also:

  1. Restrict access to jointly owned or solely owned property
  2. Require the individual to pay the victim’s rent
  3. Limit access to children or parenting time by mandating the time, place, and manner that the individual can see the children or by granting temporary custody to one parent
  4. Limit access between victim and aggressor
  5. Require the person to pay any damages that might have resulted from the alleged domestic violence including loss of earnings or wages, out of pocket losses for injuries, cost of repair or replacement of damaged property, cost of counseling, moving or traveling expenses, reasonable attorneys fees, court costs, and compensation for pain and suffering.
  6. Require the aggressor to seek professional counseling
  7. Limit access to family members other than the victim
  8. Grant possession of certain personal property to one party
  9. Grant possession of any pet or animal to one party

As you can see, the consequences of a temporary restraining orders can be severe.

What Happens If You Violating The Temporary Restraining Order?

The penalties for violating a restraining order can be even more harsh.  Individuals that violate a temporary restraining order can be held in contempt under NJSA 2C:29-9. When a defendant violates a temporary restraining order by committing an act that constitutes a disorderly persons offense of its own, then the person is guilty of contempt in the fourth degree. The violator may be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison and fined as much as $10,000.

Is There Any Opportunity To Contest The Allegations Of The Plaintiff?

Fortunately, the accused is entitled to a final restraining order hearing to contest the allegations in the domestic violence complaint. The hearing is mandated to take place within ten days of issuance of the temporary restraining order.  The Defendant has the right to attend this hearing and contest the entry of a final restraining order. He/she has the right to present witness testimony and cross examine witnesses. The court can only uphold the restraints and enter a final restraining order if it is found that the relief is necessary to prevent future acts of domestic violence.