October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and it’s important to take a moment to understand what domestic violence is and look at what can often be a complex legal process.
What is Domestic Violence?
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner, household member and/or an individual in a dating relationship against another. It can include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, economic abuse, and emotional abuse. Domestic violence can impact individuals and families in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality.
New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Law
New Jersey has one of the most powerful domestic violence laws in the nation and there are several legal remedies available to victims. It offers protection to victims of domestic violence, regardless of whether that violence is physical or verbal. The protection includes all individuals in domestic relationships, whether they are married, separated, or divorced. It also includes individuals currently living together or dating, had lived together or dated, or who share children together. Remedies may include:
- Address Confidentiality Program or ACP which helps victims get a legal substitute address to use in place of their physical address.
- Civil Lawsuits where the victim can file a civil lawsuit to recover losses and expenses or pain and suffering damages.
- Protective Orders whereby victims can apply for protection from abuse from the court.
- Custody/Child or Spousal Support Orders which can be modified to prevent any further incidents of violence between spouses, children, or other parties.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, a qualified family law attorney can help you navigate the Court system and give you the best chance of making a Temporary Restraining Order a permanent Final Restraining Order.
Final Restraining Order
In order to obtain a Final Restraining Order a Judge has to grant it after a full and complete trial. During that trial a victim has to testify under oath, be subject to cross examination by another attorney and navigate evidence issues as well as satisfying the legal burden of proof that you are entitled to a Final Restraining Order.
Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
Equally as important is to protect yourself when someone has used the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act as a sword rather than a shield and fabricates a claim of domestic violence. While many accusations are legitimate, there are sometimes situations of false accusations as well. The ramifications of having a Final Restraining Order against you are numerous and include being put on a Domestic Violence offender list, being subject to heightened scrutiny while travelling, being unable to own a firearm, negative presumptions as it relates to custody and being subject to arrest and criminal prosecution for an alleged violation.
If you have been falsely accused of accused of domestic violence, a family law attorney can represent you at trial and vigorously defend against accusations that can have an impact on the rest of your life. They will subpoena witnesses and information and implement a strategy to discredit the plaintiff’s claims.
Domestic violence is more common than you may think. The Family Law attorneys at Mandelbaum Barrett PC are all too familiar with situations where someone has been the victim of domestic violence and those where someone is falsely accused of domestic violence. This occurs every day of every month, but during this National Domestic Violence Awareness Month we wanted to take the opportunity to help you understand the process and what is involved. Domestic violence is never okay. We are here to help you get the protection you need.
New Jersey offers a state-wide Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-572-SAFE