Legal Information: New Jersey

Restraining Orders

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November 27, 2017

What protections can I get in a restraining order?

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

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.

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.2

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

Note: If the judge does order that the abuser cannot have firearms in a temporary or final order, 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.3

1 NJSA 2C:25-28(j), (k)
2 NJSA § 2C:25-29(b)
3 NJSA §§ 2C:25-28(j); 2C:25-29(b)