A restraining order is a legally binding civil order granted by the courts, intended to provide protection from harassment and abuse by a family or household member.
In New Jersey, restraining orders grant you protection from a spouse or ex-spouse, a current or past household member, someone you have or are expecting a child with, or someone with whom you have had a dating relationship.
Obtain the request for a restraining order from the domestic violence unit of Family Division of the Superior Court. You must file the request at the court in the New Jersey county where you or the defendant live or where the abuse or harassment occurred. If the courthouse is not open and you need immediate protection, you can go to the local police department or call 911; they will provide you with forms and contact the judge.
Complete the request for the restraining order. Use specific details such as dates and descriptive words to explain how you were threatened. Use concrete words such as "slap," "choke" or "hit" to describe acts of violence and include as many direct quotes as possible.
Bring to court photo identification and relevant information about the abuser, such as addresses of residence and employment, phone numbers, vehicle description, plate number and history of drugs or gun ownership.
Sign the request after showing it to a clerk of court; you may be required to sign it before a notary or judge. Your petition will be delivered to a judge. If she believes you are in immediate danger, you will be granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) effective until the full hearing, which is usually within 10 days. Law enforcement officials will directly notify the defendant of the TRO, serving him with the appropriate paperwork and the date of the full hearing.
Prepare for your court case by assembling all information available to convince the judge you are in need of protection. This can include medical or police reports, photographs of injuries or household disturbance, or eyewitness testimony. If you have an eyewitness who refuse to appear, you may request a subpoena to compel her to give testimony.
Attend the hearing. If the defendant does not appear, the court may issue a default judgment and you may be automatically granted a final restraining order. The judge also may pick a new hearing date to provide the defendant another chance to come to court.
Keep a copy of your restraining order with you at all times. The police will immediately arrest an abuser violating any part of an order protecting you, but it will be simpler to explain your situation if you can produce a copy of the restraining order.
If the abuser fails to appear and the judge issues a new hearing date, ask him to extend your TRO, if you have one.
Restraining orders are very specific. Essentially, the judge has legal authority to do allow or prohibit anything necessary to keep you safe.
If you do not attend the hearing, you will have to start the entire process over again, making it more difficult for you to be issued a final restraining order.
- gewalt image by Jens Klingebiel from Fotolia.com