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Legal Information: New Jersey

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
January 28, 2020

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)