New Jersey has one of the better laws against domestic violence in the United States, even if it is not always carried out to its full capacity. A significant amount of my practice involves some level of domestic violence, and as such I have three important points you should know about domestic violence:
- The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act was not intended to be used as a pawn in litigation. I have seen situations where attorneys advise clients to push a situation or even to (wink wink) stretch a situation in order to accuse the other side of domestic violence so they will be removed from the marital home and be prejudiced in custody and financial litigation in a divorce dispute. This is advice I will never give. If there is legitimate domestic violence happening, the law should be applied. If you just want her or him out of the house, don’t use the suffering of the countless true victims of domestic violence in this state to advance your position.
- However, if you think you aren’t safe, trust your gut. Really. You can go to the police or court house and make a complaint for a temporary restraining order ex parte, meaning that the other side will not know that you went if that order is denied. They don’t have to be there for a temporary order, but will be served for the final restraining order hearing. They will be removed from the home and they will be barred from being near you during the time you await the final restraining order hearing, which is statutorily supposed to occur within ten days. To get a restraining order you must be a victim under the act, meaning you have experienced an act of domestic violence by a spouse, person you have a child in common with, a dating relationship with, or have lived with. The domestic violence act in New Jersey recognizes the following acts as triggers for a temporary or permanent final restraining order: homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment, and stalking.
- In my experience, if you have suffered abuse, particularly on a long-term basis, you have very unique needs in choosing an attorney. Look for one who has experience dealing with domestic violence, because some attorneys do not understand the thinking of someone who has suffered this way, and may not believe, understand, or recognize the importance of your intuition regarding your ex. No one knows a batterer better than their victim, and I believe that as a lawyer I need to trust my clients’ understanding of what is an appropriate way of proceeding, for the sake of their safety and that of their children.
To learn more about what you can expect from your divorce lawyer, check out Lynda’s new book, Breaking Up: Finding and Working with a New Jersey Divorce Attorney. For a free consultation about your options call us at (856) 227-7888, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above is not specific legal advice nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship. Do not rely upon it without consulting an attorney to see how the information presented fits your unique circumstances.