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Know the Laws: New Jersey

UPDATED February 3, 2016

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

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A restraining order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a present or former family or household member, someone you are dating or have dated, or someone with whom you have a child in common or are pregnant by.

Who can get a restraining order

back to topAm I eligible to get a restraining order?

You may be eligible for a restraining order against any of the following people who committed an act of domestic violence against you:

  • a spouse or former spouse;
  • any present or former household member (if you are 18 or older or an emancipated minor); (Note: "former household member" means someone who "at any time" was a household member);
  • someone with whom you have a child in common or are expecting a child; or
  • someone you are dating or have dated.*

Note: If there are emergency circumstances that make it impossible for you to appear in court to file for a temporary order, a judge can still issue a temporary restraining order based upon your sworn complaint or based on the testimony of someone who represents you (if you are physically or mentally incapable of filing personally).**

If you do not qualify for a domestic violence restraining order, please see What if I don't qualify for a restraining order? for more information. 

* NJSA § 2C:25-19(d)
** NJSA § 2C:25-28(h)

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back to topCan I get a restraining order against a same-sex partner?

Yes. In New Jersey, you may apply for a restraining order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Am I eligible to get a restraining order?*  To find help in your state, please click on the NJ Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

* NJSA § 2C:25-19(d)

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back to topCan a minor file for a restraining order against an abuser who is 18 or over?

If a minor (under the age of 18) wants to file against an abuser who is 18 or older (or an emancipated minor), the  abuser must be:

  • a spouse or former spouse;
  • a person with whom the minor has a child in common or with whom the minor is expecting a child; or
  • a person who the minor is dating or has dated.*

A minor cannot be granted a restraining order against a current/former household member (unless the minor is considered to be emancipated under the law).  A minor is considered to be “emancipated” if s/he has been married, has entered military service, has a child, is pregnant, or has been previously declared by a court or an administrative agency to be emancipated.**   Note: A minor who is being stalked by anyone (including a family/household member) can get a restraining order based on "stalking of a child" if the minor’s parent/guardian files a complaint with the Superior Court.  A conviction for stalking is not required.***  You can read the law on "stalking of child" and the restraining order that is available on our NJ Statutes page. 

* NJSA § 2C:25-19(d)
** NJSA § 2C:25-19(e)
*** NJSA § 2C:12-10.2(c),(d)

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back to topCan a minor file for a restraining order against an abuser who is under age 18?

No.  The law does not allow a domestic violence restraining order to be filed against a minor (unless the minor is emancipated).*  A minor is considered to be “emancipated” if s/he has been married, has entered military service, has a child, is pregnant, or has been previously declared by a court or an administrative agency to be emancipated.**  However, a minor who is being stalked by anyone (including another minor) can get a restraining order based on "stalking of a child" if the minor victim’s parent/guardian files a complaint with the Superior Court.  A conviction for stalking is not required.***  You can read the law on "stalking of child" and the restraining order that is available on our NJ Statutes page. 

* See NJSA § 2C:25-19(a)
** NJSA § 2C:25-19(e)
*** NJSA § 2C:12-10.2(c),(d)

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back to topCan an adult file for a restraining order against an abuser who is under age 18?

New Jersey law does not allow a domestic violence restraining order to be filed against a minor unless the minor is considered to be legally emancipated.*  A minor is considered to be “emancipated” if s/he has been married, has entered military service, has a child, is pregnant, or has been previously declared by a court or an administrative agency to be emancipated.**  If an unemancipated minor commits an act of domestic violence, it can be the basis for civil restraints as part of a delinquency petition (which is different than a petition for a restraining order).***  You can read more about delinquency petitions on our NJ Statutes page.

* See NJSA § 2C:25-19(d)
** NJSA § 2C:25-19(e)
*** NJSA § 2C:25-19(a)

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back to topHow much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?

There is no fee to file for a restraining order or to have it served.  You do not need a lawyer to file for a protection from abuse order, but it is generally better to have one if you can, especially if the abuser has an attorney.  In many places, local domestic violence or sexual assault programs can help you file for a restraining order.  Please keep in mind that courthouse officials and domestic violence advocates who are not lawyers cannot give you legal advice or represent you in court. You can find a list of legal organizations that might be able to help you at our NJ Finding a Lawyer page. You can also find contact information for your local courthouse at our NJ Courthouse Locations page.

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back to topWhat if I don't qualify for a restraining order?

In order to get a domestic violence restraining order, there needs to be a special relationship between you and the abuser.  See Am I eligible to get a restraining order? for more information.

However, if you don’t have one of the relationships needed to apply for a restraining order, remember that the abuser may still be committing a crime for which you can get a criminal court restraining order if s/he is arrested.  For example, stalking is illegal in New Jersey and the law does not require that you know your stalker to receive protection.  If you are being stalked, you can call the police and ask that he be arrested.  If the stalker is charged in criminal court, you will likely get a criminal court restraining order, which can order the stalker not to make any contact with you that is likely to annoy or alarm you, or prohibit him/her from visiting your home, property, place of work or any other place named in the restraining order that you frequently visit.*  For the legal definition of stalking and other common crimes, please see our Crimes page.

Although restraining orders do not cover many types of emotional or mental abuse, you can contact a domestic violence organization in your area for help and support.  Please see our NJ State and Local Programs page to find an organization near you.

* NJSA § 2C:12-10.1(a)-(b)

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