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Legal Information: New Jersey

New Jersey Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in New Jersey?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a restraining order. Domestic violence is when an adult (or an emancipated minor) who has the relationship to you that is described here commits one of the following crimes against you:

  1. homicide;
  2. assault;
  3. terroristic threats;
  4. kidnapping;
  5. criminal restraint;
  6. false imprisonment;
  7. sexual assault;
  8. criminal sexual contact;
  9. lewdness;
  10. criminal mischief;
  11. burglary;
  12. criminal trespass;
  13. harassment;
  14. cyberharassment;
  15. stalking;
  16. criminal coercion;
  17. robbery;
  18. contempt of a domestic violence order, which constitutes a crime or disorderly persons offense (see section “b” of the statute); or
  19. any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury.1

Note: An emancipated minor is someone who is under 18 but who has been married, has entered military service, has a child, is pregnant or has been emancipated by a court.2

If you are a victim of sexual assault and do not have a relationship with the abuser, you may be eligible for a sexual assault restraining order.

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-19(a)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-19(e)

What types of restraining orders are there? How long do they last?

In New Jersey, there are two types of restraining orders:

Temporary restraining order (TRO)
When you file a complaint for a restraining order, you can ask for a temporary ex parte restraining order (TRO) to be issued immediately. A judge can grant you a TRO if s/he finds that it is necessary to protect your life, health, or well-being. The order will last until the hearing for a final restraining order, which is generally scheduled within 10 days.1 (An “ex parte” TRO means that the judge will make this decision based only on the information you provide, without the abuser being in court and without prior notice to him/her.)

If you cannot be physically present in court, a judge can issue a TRO upon:

  • your sworn testimony or complaint; or
  • upon the sworn testimony or complaint of a person who represents you if you are physically or mentally incapable of filing personally.

The judge must believe, however, that there are sufficiently urgent (exigent) circumstances to excuse your failure to appear personally in court.2

Note: If you need immediate protection when the courts are closed (regular courthouse hours are usually M - F, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm), you can:

  • file at the municipal court (if it is open); or
  • call your local police department or 911.3

Generally, there is an “on call” municipal court judge who can issue you a TRO and schedule the court date for the final restraining order hearing. If a municipal judge denies you the TRO, you can re-file your petition in the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court when the court reopens based on the same incident.3

Final restraining order
After a hearing in which you both have an opportunity to tell your side of the story through testimony, evidence, and witnesses, a judge can grant you a final restraining order. A final restraining order has no end date and can last forever – or until one of one of the parties files a legal motion in court asking the judge to end or modify (change) the order and the judge agrees.4

1 N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:25-28(a),(f); 2C:25-29(a)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(h)
3 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(f),(i)
4 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-29(d)

In which county can I file for a restraining order?

You can file a petition in the county:

  • where you live;
  • where you are temporarily living if you’ve left home to avoid further abuse;
  • where the abuser lives; or
  • where the abuse occurred.1

However, if you left your home and want to keep your new address confidential, filing in the county to where you have fled would alert the abuser to the fact that you are living in that county.

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(a)

What protections can I get in a temporary ex parte restraining order (TRO)?

A temporary ex parte order can:

  • forbid the defendant from returning to the scene of the domestic violence (except with a police officer to pick up personal belongings at a specific time/date);
  • forbid the defendant from possessing any firearm or certain other weapons (unless s/he is a law enforcement officer or in the military - then s/he can possess firearms while on duty);
  • order the police to search for and take any weapon (and firearms permit) at any location where the judge has reasonable cause to believe the weapon is located;
  • give you possession of any animal owned or kept by you, the defendant, or a child who lives in either household; and/or
  • order anything else the judge believes is appropriate, which often includes:
    • giving you temporary custody of your children; and
    • giving you exclusive possession of the home that you share with the abuser regardless of whose name is on the lease or whether or not the home is jointly owned.1

If the judge orders that the abuser cannot have firearms, then the judge must require that a law enforcement officer accompany the abuser (or go without the abuser if necessary) to any place where any firearm or other weapon is located and take possession of them. If the restraining order prohibits the abuser from going to the place where firearms or other weapons belonging to the abuser are located, the law enforcement officer will go without the abuser and seize (take) them.2

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(j), (k)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(j)

What protections can I get in a final (permanent) restraining order?

A final restraining order can order the abuser to:

  • not commit domestic violence against you and not to threaten to harm, harass, or stalk you or anyone else named in the restraining order;
  • stay away from the home, property, school, work or any other place that is named in the restraining order of you and your family or household members;
  • pay (in full or in part) the rent or mortgage on your home if the judge decides that the abuser has a duty to support you or your children;
  • not make any contact that is likely to annoy or alarm you, including contact in person, by telephone, in writing, or through a third person with you or your family members, employers, other workers, etc;
  • pay you for reasonable losses resulting from the abuse (some examples of this are loss of earnings or support, the cost of injuries, moving or travel expenses, the replacement or repair of property damaged or taken by the abuser, attorney and counseling fees, compensation for pain and suffering, etc.);
  • be prohibited from purchasing, owning or possessing a firearm or other weapons, and order the search for and seizure of any firearm or other weapons at any place where the judge has reasonable cause to believe a weapon is located;
  • attend domestic violence counseling;
  • undergo a psychiatric evaluation; and
  • report to the court to monitor that the abuser is following the terms.1

A final restraining order can also give you the following:

  • sole possession of the home where you both live (in other words, remove the abuser from the home). The judge can order this even if the home is owned or leased only by the abuser, not you. If, however, it is not possible for you to stay in the home, the judge can order the abuser to pay your rent for a new place if the abuser has a duty to support you;
  • temporary custody and decide how often the abuser can see your minor children, specify the time and place of parenting time, and require supervision or the participation of a third party. Note: If the abuser is granted parenting time and then threatens the safety and well-being of your children in some way, you can apply for an emergency hearing and the judge will consider suspending the abuser’s parenting time;
  • temporary possession of personal property such as a car, checkbook, health insurance documentation, identification, a key, and other personal items; (these items can be given either to you or the abuser);
  • emergency financial support from the abuser, including support for your minor children;
  • an order that a law enforcement officer must accompany you or the abuser to your home or shared workplace to supervise the removal of personal items;
  • possession of any animal owned or kept by you, the defendant, or a child who lives in either household; and
  • any other appropriate relief you request for you or your dependent children.1

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

If the judge orders that the abuser cannot have firearms, then the judge must require that a law enforcement officer accompany the abuser (or go without the abuser if necessary) to any place where any firearm or other weapon is located and take possession of them. If the restraining order prohibits the abuser from going to the place where firearms or other weapons belonging to the abuser are located, the law enforcement officer will go without the abuser and seize (take) them.1

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-29(b)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.

Who can get a restraining order

Am 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 (but only if you are 18 or older or an emancipated minor);
  • someone with whom you have a child in common or are expecting a child; or
  • someone you are dating or have dated.1

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).2

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.

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-19(d)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(h)

Can I get a restraining order against a same-sex partner?

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?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in New Jersey?

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

Can 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.1

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.2

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.3 You can read the law on “stalking of child” and the restraining order that is available on our Selected NJ Statutes page.

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-19(d)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-19(e)
3 N.J. Stat. § 2C:12-10.2(c), (d)

Can a minor file for a restraining order against an abuser who is under age 18?

The law does not allow a domestic violence restraining order to be filed against a minor (unless the minor is emancipated).1 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.2 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.3 You can read the law on “stalking of child” and the restraining order that is available on our Selected NJ Statutes page.

1 See N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-19(a)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-19(e)
3 N.J. Stat. § 2C:12-10.2(c), (d)

Can 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.1 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.2 If a minor (who is unemancipated) 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).3 You can read more about delinquency petitions on our Selected NJ Statutes page.

1 See N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-19(d)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-19(e)
3 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-19(a)

How 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 an 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.

If you will be representing yourself, go to our Preparing Your Case page for information on how to best prepare yourself.

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

What if I don't qualify for a restraining order?

In order to get a domestic violence restraining order, there needs to be a specific relationship between you and the abuser. See Am I eligible to get a restraining order? for more information. If you are a victim of sexual assault and do not have a relationship with the abuser, you may be eligible for a sexual assault restraining order.

If you don’t qualify 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 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, and prohibit him/her from visiting your home, property, place of work or any other place named in the restraining order that you frequently visit.1 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 Advocates and Shelters page to find an organization near you.

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:12-10.1(a)-(b)

The steps for getting a restraining order

Step 1: Go to the courthouse to get the necessary forms.

You can file a complaint for a restraining order with the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court in the county where you live, the county where the abuser lives, or the county where the violence occurred.1 (To find courthouse contact information, see our NJ Courthouse Locations page.) Remember to bring some form of identification (a driver’s license or a picture I.D.) with you to court. It is also helpful if you can bring information about the abuser (such as addresses of residence and employment; phone numbers; a description and plate number of the abuser’s car, any history of drugs or gun ownership).

Note: If you need an order outside of regular courthouse hours, you can file at the municipal court (if it is open) or you can call the police who will contact an on call judge who can issue a TRO.2 See What types of restraining orders are there? How long do they last? for more information.

At the courthouse, the clerk of court will be able to provide you with the forms that you need to file for a restraining order. The clerk may assist you with filing the papers but will not be able to give you legal advice.3 The necessary forms are also available at municipal and state police stations, and you will find links to online versions at our NJ Download Court Forms page.

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).4

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(a),(f)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(f)
3 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(c),(d)
4 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(h)

Step 2: Carefully fill out the forms.

You will need to fill out the necessary forms including the complaint requesting the restraining order. On the complaint, you will be the “plaintiff” and the abuser will be the “defendant.”

Read the forms carefully and ask questions to the courthouse staff if you don’t understand something. Describe in detail how the abuser (defendant) injured or threatened you. Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible. Explain when and where the abuse or threats occurred, if s/he used or threatened you with a weapon and any injuries you suffered. When writing about the incidents of violence, use descriptive language (e.g., slapping, hitting, grabbing, choking, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. When writing about threats, include the words that s/he said to you, if possible.

Do not sign the form until you have shown it to a clerk of court. You might need to sign the form in front of a notary or a judge at the courthouse.

Step 3: A judge will review your complaint and may grant you a temporary restraining order (TRO).

Your petition for the restraining order will be given to the judge. If the judge believes that you’re in immediate danger, s/he can give you a temporary restraining order (TRO). This order will stay in effect until the full hearing is heard (usually within ten days) at which time you can be granted a final restraining order.1

If the judge grants you a TRO, the police will serve the abuser with the TRO and the complaint, which will notify the abuser of the date for the full hearing for the final restraining order.2

Remember to keep a copy of the temporary order with you at all times.

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-29(a)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(l)

Step 4: The full court hearing

At the hearing, you will have the chance to testify in court and present evidence and witnesses to prove that the abuser committed an act of domestic violence against you. The abuser will also be allowed to be present evidence and testify in the hearing to defend himself/herself. You may want to get a lawyer to represent you at that hearing, especially if you think the abuser will have one. Go to our NJ Finding a Lawyer page for a listing of free and paid lawyers. The judge will decide whether or not to give you a final restraining order.1 See the Preparing Your Case page for ways you can show the judge you were abused.

It is very important that you attend the court hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary restraining order will expire and you will have to start the process over.2 If you find out you absolutely cannot attend, contact the clerk or court immediately and ask how you can get a “continuance” for a later court date. If you are granted a “continuance,” be sure to ask to have your TRO extended until the new hearing date.

If the abuser does not attend the hearing, the court may issue a “default judgment” against him/her and you may receive a final restraining order in his/her absence. The judge also may decide to pick a new hearing date to give the abuser another chance to come to court. If this happens, be sure to ask the judge to extend your TRO if you have one.

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-29(a)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(i)

After the hearing

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in New Jersey have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some steps that you may want to take as you are preparing to leave the courthouse and afterwards.  However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.

  • Review the restraining order before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the protection order as soon as possible.  Leave a copy of the order at your workplace, at your home, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and if children are included, at the children’s school or daycare.  Basically, make sure that you have a copy of the order available at all times.  Once the defendant has been served, put a copy of the return of service with all copies of the order.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the restraining order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number.

A restraining order is not a guarantee of your safety.  Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order.  Many abusers obey protection orders, but some do not, and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  For suggestions on staying safe, visit our Staying Safe page.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  To find an advocate in your area please visit our NJ Advocates and Shelters page.  Remember that if the abuser violates the order in any way, you can report the violation to your local law enforcement, and s/he may be arrested.

I was denied a restraining order at the final hearing. What are my options?

If you are not granted a restraining order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource organizations in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Tips page. You will find a list of New Jersey resources on our NJ Places that Help page.

If you were not granted a restraining order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify as a “family or household member,” you may be able to seek protection through the criminal courts. For more information, see What if I don’t qualify for a restraining order?

You can also reapply for a restraining order in the future if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer. See our File an Appeal page for more information.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

If the abuser violates any part of the order, you can call the police and report the violation. If the abuser continues to harass, telephone, threaten, stalk or physically harm you, or violates the “stay-away provision,” a police officer can arrest the abuser, even if the officer does not witness the abuse.1 An abuser who violates a restraining order can face criminal contempt charges for the violation in addition to any other crime that s/he may have committed when violating the order. Purposely or knowingly violating a domestic violence restraining order could be a “disorderly persons offense.” If when violating the order, s/he also committed a crime or a disorderly persons offense, then s/he can be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. The penalties can potentially include jail time.2

Also, if the abuser violates any portion of the restraining order (especially the part that deals with visitation, monetary compensation, orders for rent or mortgage payments, distribution of property, etc., which the police likely will not address), you have the right to enforce the order by bringing an application in the Family Court based on the violation.

You can call the Family Court Domestic Violence unit, or visit the appropriate division at the Family Court, and ask the intake staff to file the appropriate papers necessary to enforce the terms of the order. Different counties have different forms for seeking enforcement, but in most counties, the process is called a “Motion for Enforcement of Litigant’s Rights.”

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-31
2 N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:25-30; 2C:29-9(b)

Can I change or dismiss the final order? Can the abuser get the order dismissed?

If you want to modify (change) your order, go back to the court where you were granted the restraining order it and file a modification petition to with the clerk.1

If you are granted a final restraining order, it does not have an expiration date and can last forever – it will only end if you or the abuser files in court to dissolve the order. If you file to dismiss the order, the judge would hold a hearing where you are both present and the judge may question you to make sure that you are not being coerced or threatened into requesting the dismissal. If the abuser files to dismiss the order (often referred to as a “Carfagno motion”), the judge typically will consider the following factors to determine if there is “good cause” to vacate the restraining order:

  1. whether or not you consent to vacate the order;
  2. whether or not you are still in fear of the defendant;
  3. the current nature of the relationship between you and the abuser;
  4. the number of times that the abuser has been convicted of contempt for violating the order;
  5. whether or not the abuser has a continuing involvement with drug or alcohol use;
  6. whether or not the defendant has been involved in other violent acts with other people;
  7. if the abuser has attended counseling;
  8. the age and health of the abuser;
  9. whether or not you are “acting in good faith” if you oppose the abuser’s request to vacate the order;
  10. whether or not another court has entered a restraining order protecting you from the abuser; and
  11. any other factor that the judge believes is relevant.2

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-29(d)
2Carfagno v. Carfagno, 288 N.J. Super. 424, 434 (Ch. Div. 1995)

What happens if I move? Is my restraining order still enforceable?

If you are moving to another part of New Jersey1 or to another state, your restraining order is still enforceable. Federal law provides what is called “full faith and credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it is valid in any state you are in. It follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands. However, since different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state restraining orders, it may make enforcement easier if you know that state’s regulations. You can also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111, ext. 2) for information on enforcing your order in another state.

To read more information about moving out of New Jersey with a restraining order, please see our Moving to Another State with a Restraining Order page.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-28(p)

Can I keep my address confidential if I move?

You may wish to take advantage of the New Jersey Address Confidentiality Program if you move to a new address and want to keep it concealed from the abuser. The program allows victims of domestic violence to apply for a designated address that only the Division on Women and its employees will know. When the State receives mail for you, the mail will be forwarded to you at your actual address. The program’s goal is to keep your address confidential in the records of State and local government agencies,1 including when applying for any type of public assistance, such as welfare or unemployment. You can also request that any state or local agencies through which you already receive assistance use the designated address. The agency must accept the designated address unless it can show the program that your actual address is necessary and required by law.

1 You can read the relevant laws on the NJ state government website

Sexual Assault Restraining Orders

A sexual assault restraining order (also known as a sexual assault protective order) is a civil order that provides protection to victims of sexual assault and other forms of non-consensual sexual contact.  However, if the person who sexually assaulted you is a current or former intimate partner, you would file for a domestic violence restraining order (not a sexual assault restraining order).

Basic info and definitions

What is a sexual assault restraining order?

Similar to a domestic violence restraining order, a sexual assault restraining order (also known as a sexual assault protective order) is a court order that can protect you from an abuser if you are the victim of actual or attempted nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness.1  If you do not qualify for a domestic violence restraining order because you do not have the required relationship to the abuser, then you may qualify for a sexual assault restraining order.

1 NJSA § 2C:14-14(a)(1)

What is the legal definition of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, and lewdness?

To qualify for a sexual assault restraining order, you must be the victim of actual or attempted nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness by someone who is not a current or former intimate partner.

Sexual contact is an intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of your or the abuser’s sexual organs, genital area, anal area, inner thigh, groin, buttock or breast for the purpose of degrading or humiliating you or sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the abuser.

Sexual penetration is vaginal intercourse, oral sex (cunnilingus or fellatio) or anal intercourse between you and the abuser or insertion of the hand, finger or object into the anus or vagina either by the abuser or due to the abuser’s instruction.

Lewdness means exposing one’s genitals for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the abuser or of any other person.1

1 NJSA § 2C:14-14(a)(1)

What types of sexual assault restraining orders are there? How long do they last?

In New Jersey, there are two types of sexual assault restraining orders, temporary and final.

Temporary ex parte restraining orders
When you file a petition for a sexual assault restraining order, you can ask for a temporary ex parte restraining order to be issued immediately. A judge can grant you a temporary order if the judge decides it is necessary to protect your safety and well-being.1 The judge can issue this order without the abuser having prior notice or being present at the hearing. The hearing for the final order will be scheduled within 10 days of filing your petition.2 Your temporary order (if you have one) will remain in effect until a judge of the Superior Court issues a decision on your petition (either granting a final order or dismissing your temporary order).3

Final sexual assault restraining orders
After a hearing in which you both have an opportunity to tell your side of the story through testimony, evidence, and witnesses, a judge can grant you a final restraining order. The judge can only grant it after the judge finds that the abuser committed or attempted to commit an act of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness against you or the abuser admits to the behavior.4 The final sexual assault restraining order remains in effect until the judge says otherwise. In other words, there is no set end date to a sexual assault restraining order.5

1 NJSA § 2C:14-15(a)
2 NJSA § 2C:14-16(a)
3 NJSA § 2C:14-15(d)
4 NJSA § 2C:14-16(e)
5 NJSA § 2C:14-16(i)

What protections can I get in a sexual assault restraining order?

A temporary or final restraining order can order the abuser not to:

  • commit or attempt to commit any future act of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness against you;
  • enter your or your family or household members’ residence, property, school, or place of employment,
  • come near any specific place identified in the order that you or your family or household members frequently go to;
  • have any contact with you or other people named in the order;
  • personally, or through another person, start any communication that is likely to cause annoyance or alarm with you, your family members, or their employers, employees, or fellow workers, an employee or volunteer of a sexual assault response organization that is providing services to you, or others with whom communication would be likely to cause annoyance or alarm to you. The type of communication could include personal, written, or telephone contact; or contact through electronic devices;
  • stalk or follow you or threaten to harm, stalk, or follow you; and
  • commit or attempt to commit an act of harassment, including an act of cyber-harassment, against you.1

Note: For either a temporary or final order, the judge can also order any other relief that s/he decides is appropriate.2

1 NJSA §§ 2C:14-15(e); 2C:14-16(e), (f)
2 NJSA § 2C:14-16(e)(6), (f)(5)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.

Getting the order

Who can get a sexual assault restraining order?

You can file for a sexual assault restraining order if a person committed or attempted to commit an act of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration or lewdness against you and you do not have an intimate relationship with the offender.  (If the abuser is a former or current intimate partner, then you would file for a domestic violence restraining order instead.) To file for a sexual assault restraining order, you do not need to have any specific relationship with the abuser; – s/he can be a stranger, a co-worker, an acquaintance, etc.1  

If the victim is under the age of 18 or has a developmental disability, a parent or guardian can file for a sexual assault restraining order on the victim’s behalf.2   However, if the abuser is a minor (and unemancipated), you would instead file a complaint under a proceeding that deals with juvenile delinquency - see section 2A:4A-30 on our NJ Statutes page to read the law.  If the abuser is the parent, guardian, or other person having custody and control over the minor victim, the law requires that you instead report the abuse to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families for investigation and possible legal action.  You may then petition in the Superior Court for a protective order on behalf of the applicant and the (unemancipated) minor victim as part of the legal proceedings related to child abuse and neglect.3

1 See NJSA § 2C:14-14(a)(1)
2 NJSA § 2C:14-14(a)(2)(a),(b)
3 NJSA § 2C:14-14(b)

What are the steps involved with getting a sexual assault restraining order?

What if the abuser violates the order?

If someone purposely or knowingly violates a sexual assault restraining order, s/he could be committing the crime of contempt and guilty of a “disorderly persons offense.”  If when violating the order, s/he also committed a crime or a disorderly persons offense, then s/he can be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.1  

You can call 911 immediately and the police may arrest the abuser.  If the police do not have sufficient facts to arrest the abuser, you can file a criminal complaint in municipal court.2

1 NJSA §§ 2C:14-18(a); 2C:29-9(d)
2 NJSA § 2C:14-18(b)

Extreme Risk Protective Orders

An extreme risk protective order is a civil court order that prohibits an individual (called the respondent) from having guns in certain situations.

Basic info

What is an extreme risk protective order?

An extreme risk protective order temporarily restricts a respondent’s access to guns in certain situations to protect him/her and others.1

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:58-24(d)

Who can file for an extreme risk protective order?

You can file for an extreme risk protective order if the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of bodily injury to himself/herself or others by possessing, purchasing, owning, or receiving a firearm. Additionally, to file for an extreme risk protective order, you must be:

  • a law enforcement officer; or
  • the respondent’s family or household member, which includes:
  • the respondent’s spouse or former spouse;
  • the respondent’s domestic partner or former domestic partner;
  • the respondent’s civil union partner or former civil union partner;
  • someone who lives with or has lived with the respondent;
  • someone with whom the respondent has a child in common or is expecting a child; or
  • someone who is dating or has dated the respondent.1

Note: The type of petition you file and process you will follow will depend on whom the petitioner is and whether the respondent is a law enforcement officer.2

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:58-21
2 New Jersey Courts Guidelines for Extreme Risk Protective Orders

What types of orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of extreme risk protective orders: temporary extreme risk protective orders and final extreme risk protective orders.

Temporary extreme risk protective orders – The judge will issue a temporary extreme risk protective order if s/he believes that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of bodily injury to himself/herself or others by possessing, purchasing, owning, or receiving a firearm. The judge can issue a temporary extreme risk protective order ex parte, which means that the respondent is not present and doesn’t have notice of the case. The judge may ask you questions under oath and question any witnesses that you bring to the hearing.1 The temporary extreme risk protective order will remain in effect until the hearing for the final order, which must be held within ten days of the date that you filed the petition.2

Final extreme risk protective orders – A final extreme risk protective order can be issued after the respondent receives notice and has the opportunity to be present for a hearing in court. The respondent will have the chance to present evidence and testimony to the judge. The judge will issue a final extreme risk protective order if s/he finds that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of bodily injury to himself/herself or others by possessing, purchasing, owning, or receiving a firearm.3

A final extreme risk protective order remains in effect until the petitioner or respondent requests that the judge end the order. The request to end the order can be filed any time after the final extreme risk protective order is issued. If the respondent requests to end the order, s/he must prove to the judge that s/he no longer poses a danger of bodily injury to himself/herself or others by possessing, purchasing, owning, or receiving a firearm.4

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:58-23(d)
2 N.J. Stat. § 2C:58-24(a)
3 N.J. Stat. § 2C:58-24(d)
4 N.J. Stat. § 2C:58-25; see Petition for Termination of Final Extreme Risk Protective Order

What protections can I get in an extreme risk protective order?

In an extreme risk protective order, the judge can order that the respondent:

  • not possess or buy a firearm or ammunition; and
  • not have any firearms identification cards or permits.1

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:58-26(a)

Getting the order

How do I get an extreme risk protective order?

The steps to get an extreme risk protective order are similar to the steps to get a domestic violence restraining order, but you will fill out different forms. When filing for an extreme risk protective order, your petition must include:

  • a sworn statement (affidavit) that includes the facts that cause you to believe that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of bodily injury to himself/herself or others;
  • the reasons you believe these facts exists; and
  • the number, types, descriptions, and locations of any firearms and ammunition you believe to be in the respondent’s control or possession.1

1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:58-23(b)

How will a judge make a decision about whether to grant the order?

A judge can issue an extreme risk protective order if the judge believes that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of bodily injury to himself/herself or others by possessing, purchasing, owning, or receiving a firearm. When deciding whether to grant a temporary or final extreme risk protective order, a judge will consider multiple factors including evidence of whether the respondent:

  • has any history of making threats or acting violent towards himself/herself or others;
  • has any history of attempted, threatened, or use of physical force against another person;
  • has or had a temporary or final domestic violence restraining order issued against him/her;
  • violated a temporary or final domestic violence restraining order;
  • has or had a temporary or final sexual assault restraining order issued against him/her;
  • violated a temporary or final sexual assault violence restraining order;
  • has any previous arrests, pending charges, or convictions for a violent crime, disorderly persons offense, or stalking offense;
  • has any previous arrests, pending charges, or convictions for cruelty to animals or any history of cruelty to animals;
  • has any history of drug or alcohol abuse and recovery from drug and alcohol abuse; or
  • recently got a firearm, ammunition, or other deadly weapon.1

1 N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:58-23(f); 2C:58-23(c)

What happens if the respondent violates the order?

If the respondent violates an extreme risk protective order, s/he can be convicted of a crime of the fourth degree.1 A person convicted of a fourth degree crime could face:

  • a permanent felony charge on his/her record;
  • potential probation;
  • up to 18 months in State Prison;
  • up to 364 days in the county jail; and/or
  • up to a $10,000 fine.2

1 N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:58-29; 2C:29-9(e)
2 N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:43-3; 2C:43-6

Moving to Another State with a Restraining Order

If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your restraining order can still be enforceable.

General rules

Can I get my restraining order from New Jersey enforced in another state?

Yes. If you have a valid New Jersey restraining order that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid restraining orders granted in the United States receive “full faith and credit” in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories.1 See How do I know if my restraining order is good under federal law? to find out if your restraining order qualifies.

Each state must enforce out-of-state restraining orders in the same way it enforces its own orders, so if the abuser violates your out-of-state restraining order, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated - this is what is meant by “full faith and credit.”

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a)

How do I know if my restraining order is good under federal law?

A restraining order is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story. It doesn’t matter if he actually showed up in court; just that he had the opportunity to do so.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled within a “reasonable time” after the order is issued.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

I have an emergency or temporary (ex parte) restraining order. Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes. An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my restraining order is good under federal law?1

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court). However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

 

Getting your restraining order enforced in another state

How do I get my restraining order enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your New Jersey restrainng order enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid restrainng order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1 Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do I need anything special to get my restraining order enforced in another state?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your restraining order. A certified copy says that it is a “true and correct” copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it. In New Jersey, a certified order may have a raised seal on it or have a judge’s original signature or a stamp that says it is a “true copy.”

If your copy is not a certified copy, call or go to the court that gave you the order, and ask the clerk’s office for a certified copy. There is no fee to get a certified copy of a NJ restraining order.

Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move. Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work. Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

Can I get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your restraining order enforced in another state.

However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to.  A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your restraining order in that state, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, see our Advocates and Shelters page and our Finding a Lawyer page.
page.

Do I need to tell the court in New Jersey if I move?

If you won’t be getting mail at your old address, it would likely be a good idea to give the court a current address so that you can be notified of any actions that are taken regarding your restraining order. The court will communicate with you only by mail if anything happens to your restraining order. For example, if the abuser asks the court to dismiss the order, or change it in any way, the court will send you written notice letting you know. If you will not be receiving mail at your old address, you would likely want to provide the court with a new address where you can receive mail. However, before doing so, confirm with the clerk that your address will be kept confidential and not available to the abuser or any other member of the public. If you feel unsafe giving the court your new address, consider using the address of a trusted relative or friend or a P.O. Box instead.

If you are a participant in The New Jersey Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), you should also inform them about your change of address. ACP can be reached toll free at (877) 218-9133.

Enforcing custody provisions in my restraining order in another state

I was granted temporary custody with my restraining order. Can I take my kids out of the state?

Maybe. It will depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your restraining order. You may have to first seek the permission of the court before leaving. If the abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

To read more about custody laws in New Jersey, go to our NJ Custody page.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance in the NJ area on our NJ Places that Help page.

 

I was granted temporary custody with my restraining order. Will another state enforce this custody order?

Yes. Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a restraining order can be enforced across state lines. Federal law requires courts and law enforcement officials in other states to enforce these provisions.1

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266

Enforcing your Out-Of-State Order in New Jersey

If you are planning to move to New Jersey or are going to be in New Jersey for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in New Jersey

Can I get my protection order enforced in New Jersey? What are the requirements?

Yes. Your protection order can be enforced in New Jersey as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story. It doesn’t matter if he actually showed up in court; just that he had the opportunity to do so.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled within a “reasonable time” after the order is issued.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

Can I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in NJ?

No. Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You cannot have this done by a court in New Jersey.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued. You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living. To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the “How to Get a Restraining Order” page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in New Jersey, you may be able to get a new one issued in NJ but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in NJ. To find out more information on how to get a protective order in Pennsylvania, visit our NJ Restraining Order page.  

 

I was granted temporary custody with my out-of-state protection order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in NJ?

Yes. As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 New Jersey can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets these standards, contact a lawyer in your area. To find a lawyer in your area see our NJ Finding a Lawyer page.

1 These federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

 

Registering your out-of-state order in New Jersey

If I don’t have a hard copy of my out-of-state order, how can law enforcement enforce it?

To enforce an out-of-state order, law enforcement typically may rely on the National Crime Information Center Protection Order File (NCIC-POF). The NCIC-POF is a nationwide, electronic database that contains information about orders of protection that were issued in each state and territory in the U.S. The Protection Order File (POF) contains court orders that are issued to prevent acts of domestic violence, or to prevent someone from stalking, intimidating, or harassing another person. It contains orders issued by both civil and criminal state courts. The types of protection orders issued and the information contained in them vary from state to state.1

There is no way for the general public to access the NCIC-POF. That means you cannot confirm a protection order is in the registry or add a protection order to the registry without the help of a government agency that has access to it.

Typically, the state police or criminal justice agency in the state has the responsibility of reporting protection orders to NCIC. However, in some cases, the courts have taken on that role and they manage the protection order reporting process.2 NCIC–POF is used by law enforcement agencies when they need to verify and enforce an out-of-state protection order. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

However, not all states routinely enter protection orders into the NCIC. Instead, some states may enter the orders only in their own state protection order registry, which would not be accessible to law enforcement in other states. According to a 2016 report by the National Center for State Courts, more than 700,000 protection orders that were registered in state protection order databases were not registered in the federal NCIC Protection Order File.2 This means that if a law enforcement officer is trying to enforce a protection order from another state that is missing from the NCIC, the victim would likely need to show the officer a hard copy of the order to get it immediately enforced. If you no longer have a copy of your original order, you may want to contact the court that issued the order to ask them how you can get another copy sent to you.

1 National Center for Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit
2 See State Progress in Record Reporting for Firearm-Related Background Checks: Protection Order Submissions, prepared by the National Center for State Courts, April 2016

How do I register my protection order in New Jersey?

In order to register your protection order in NJ, you need to bring a copy of the order to a county Family Division Intake Domestic Violence Unit. You will also need to fill out a Victim Information Sheet and an Out-of-State certification form. The court will contact the court that gave you the order to verify that it is valid. Once your order has been verified, the Family Division will give you a copy and send one to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.1

If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in New Jersey for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our NJ Advocates and Shelters page.

1State of New Jersey Domestic Violence Procedures Manual, amended October 2008, sections 7.4.1 & 7.4.6

Do I have to register my protection order in NJ in order to get it enforced?

No. According to federal law, which applies to all states, you do not have to register your protection order in order to get it enforced.1

NJ has guidelines in place that address registration of foreign (out-of-state) restraining orders. These guidelines give full protection to an out-of-state protection order as long as you can show the officer a copy of the order and can truthfully tell the officer that you believe the order is still in effect.2 The order does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by a New Jersey police officer, but the officer does need to believe that it is a valid (real) order.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)
2 State of New Jersey Domestic Violence Procedures Manual, amended October 2008, section 7.3.3, available at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/family/dvprcman.pdf

Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Staying Safe page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our NJ Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

 

What if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

If you don’t register your order, it should not be any more difficult to get your order enforced although is is possible that it may take longer for law enforcement to verify that it is a valid order if it is not registered.  However, neither federal law1 nor state law2 requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced. A police officer must enforce an out-of-state protection order as long as it appears to be valid.

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in New Jersey. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in NJ, go to our NJ Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)
2 State of New Jersey Domestic Violence Procedures Manual, amended October 2008, sections 7.4.7, available at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/family/dvprcman.pdf

Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

No. There should be no fee for registering your protection order in New Jersey.