Date: October 3, 2023Attorney: David S. Carton

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to unite and support victims and survivors of abuse. New Jersey has one of the strongest Domestic Violence laws in the United States. It offers victims of domestic violence immediate protection, and if restraints are made permanent, the Final Restraining Order is extremely difficult to get lifted and consequences for violations are significant and may include jail time. Our family law team takes a look at these important tools to help you better understand what they are and also to look at what happens if they are misused.

What is a TRO?
A Temporary Restraining Order is a legal order issued by a court to provide immediate protection for victims of domestic violence. It is designed to safeguard survivors and their families from further harm or harassment.

Temporary, but Powerful
TROs are temporary in nature, typically lasting for a short period, such as a few weeks, but can last longer. They serve as a rapid response mechanism to ensure immediate safety while a more permanent solution, like a restraining order, can be considered.

Empowering Survivors
By seeking a TRO, survivors take a courageous step towards securing their safety and well-being. It prohibits the alleged abuser from contacting or approaching the survivor, their home, or workplace, providing much-needed peace of mind.

The Legal Process
To obtain a Final Restraining Order, survivors can consult with a family law attorney who can guide them through the process. It often involves filing a petition, presenting evidence of abuse, and attending court hearings. Legal representation can be pivotal in ensuring your case is strong and compelling.

What Could Go Wrong?
In some cases, shields are used as swords and a simple argument that has taken place many times or a vague allegation could result in the entry of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). And because of the backlog of the Courts, this can have dramatic effects on people and children. Mistakes happen, but when it comes to TROs, the consequences can be dire. Inaccurate or unjust TROs can disrupt lives, affect child custody, and damage reputations. It’s crucial that these orders are entered correctly to protect those in need and uphold justice.

False Accusations vs. Genuine Cases
It’s essential to distinguish between cases involving genuine domestic violence and those with false accusations. Mishandled TROs can inadvertently harm innocent individuals while failing to protect true survivors. If parenting time is suspended when a Temporary Restraining Order is obtained, it could be weeks before a hearing is obtained to seek that the parenting time is reinstated. This is before we even get to a hearing on the allegations of domestic violence, where a defendant gets to tell their side of events for the first time. Even a defendant who prevails and has to incur substantial fees in order to clear their name is not eligible for counsel fees against the party that falsely filed a TRO.

The Role of Legal Professionals
Family law attorneys, judges, and court officials play a pivotal role in ensuring the accuracy and fairness of Final Restraining Orders. It’s our responsibility to meticulously review evidence, hear both sides, and make informed decisions that prioritize safety and justice.

Pursuing Justice
It’s important to remember that TROs are just one part of a broader legal process. They can be a critical first step toward ending the cycle of abuse and holding the abuser accountable.

How Mandelbaum Barrett PC’s Family Law Attorneys Can Help

If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence, please reach out to a family law attorney or a local domestic violence hotline for support and guidance. Your safety matters, and you don’t have to face this journey alone. If you’ve been affected by an incorrectly entered TRO or know someone who has, seek legal counsel immediately. It’s crucial to address these issues promptly to rectify any injustices.