In my years of practice as a family law attorney, I’ve helped clients deal with many difficult situations. After a while, I’ve noticed a pattern. For example, many people resist filing for divorce until after the holidays. By the same token, declines in the stock market seemingly trigger domestic violence complaints. Meanwhile, the call for social distancing can easily turn an already tense relationship into an abusive one.
Social distancing calls for people in intimate relationships to stay home. All that togetherness can easily be stressful. Add in the fact that you’re suddenly homeschooling and worried about financial stability. And, yes – fearful that a pandemic could compromise the health of the people you love.
I’m sure that just everyone agrees that there’s no excuse for domestic violence. However, other countries are already experiencing a surge in complaints related to the coronavirus. Surely, something needs to be done to protect the victims.
Back in 1991, the New Jersey legislature passed a law named the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. It allows domestic violence victims to seek a restraining order against their abusers. The process begins with a temporary restraining order, also referred to as a TRO.
New Jersey has one of the strictest domestic violence laws in the country. Notably, the court doesn’t have to find that the victim was physically abused to grant an order of protection. An act of domestic violence can fall into one nineteen categories. For example, while harassment and stalking don’t leave visible bruises, they can easily make a victim fearful.
In my experience, I’ve come across many people who are afraid to ask for a restraining order. Others are embarrassed that they’ll be labeled and scorned. Men as domestic violence victims struggle with how it impacts their masculinity. For either sex, there’s also some apprehension that asking the court for protection will escalate a bad situation.
Depending on the circumstances, the local authorities may assist you in obtaining the temporary restraining order. For example, if the police come to your house and see evidence of physical harm or weapons, they may call the municipal judge. Otherwise, you’ll make the application yourself at the county courthouse.
When you request the TRO, you won’t have to face the person who harmed you at that time. You’ll first meet with an intake person who then provides you with basic information. Your next step is before the court, where you’ll state the reason you need protection.
After you’re granted the temporary restraining order, you’ll need to prepare for the next proceeding. The goal is to change the TRO to a final restraining order – also referred to as an FRO.
For many, it’s a time filled with anxious moments. The person you’ve accused of domestic violence gets their day in court. Assuredly, it’s not something you’ll want to face alone.
Whether I’m representing the victim or the accused, I counsel my clients on what the court needs to know when granting a restraining order. For example, the judge will expect testimony of prior acts of domestic violence, as well as the particular circumstances that brought about the request for an order of protection. Of course, there’s also the issue of whether or not the victim is in imminent danger.
Unfortunately, you may need a lawyer in court with you for another reason. It’s entirely possible that someone has filed a false domestic violence complaint against you. Sadly, some people do this as part of a divorce strategy.
These are difficult times for many in intimate relationships. I understand how social distancing and the overall stress of the circumstances puts people in bad positions. I am more than happy to discuss your concerns and invite you to call me. Help is just a phone call away.