Final Restraining Orders
Final Restraining Orders
Supporting your safety and well-being
In New Jersey, Final Restraining Order (FRO) hearings typically occur within ten days of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) being issued. Whether you’re the plaintiff (the person alleging domestic violence) or defendant (the accused), this extremely short timeline means that you must move quickly to fully prepare for the hearing.
Whether you’re a victim of abuse or wrongly accused, our family law team is prepared to thoroughly investigate your specific situation and present highly effective and informed arguments to the court to protect your safety, freedoms, and future.
If you need to prepare for a Final Restraining Order hearing, contact us. Our knowledgeable attorneys can guide you through the process.
Final Restraining Orders in New Jersey
In New Jersey, Final Restraining Orders prohibit further contact between the parties. They can also prevent contact between the abuser and the children, family, and employer of the plaintiff. The goal of a Final Restraining Order is to cease the abusive behavior and prevent future domestic violence.
Once issued, FROs have a major impact on the lives of both the plaintiff and the defendant. The hearing upon which this life-changing protective order is based is typically set to occur within ten days of the initial domestic violence complaint and issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).
The importance of retaining legal representation during the FRO hearing can’t be stressed enough, especially given the short amount of time to prepare.
Considering the many protections, restrictions, and consequences a Final Restraining Order can have for either party, as well as its permanent duration, it’s critical that you speak with a knowledgeable domestic violence attorney to better prepare your case.
We recommend speaking with an attorney as quickly as possible after the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order.
At Jacobs Berger, our Morris County family law team has extensive experience in working with clients to swiftly prepare an effective legal argument for their FRO hearing.
How Do I Get a Final Restraining Order?
In order to get a Final Restraining Order, you must first petition for a Temporary Restraining Order.
You can do this in one of two ways, but you must petition where you live, where the defendant lives, or where the abuse took place:
- Through the Family Division of the County Courthouse
- By calling the police
Please note, if the abuse occurs outside of business hours, you can get a Temporary Restraining Order by calling your local police department. They can speak with an on-call judge who can issue a TRO over the phone.
Once the TRO is issued, the hearing for the FRO will typically take place within ten days.
In order for a judge to issue a Final Restraining Order, all of the following must be the case:
- The plaintiff and defendant have a domestic relationship, as qualified under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
- The accused has committed a predicate act of domestic violence (see below)
- Continuing legal restraints are needed to prevent future acts of domestic violence
What is a predicate act of domestic violence? According to New Jersey Revised Statutes, domestic violence can include “homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment, stalking, criminal coercion, robbery, contempt of a court order related to domestic violence, or any other criminal activity.”
The Final Restraining Order attorneys at Jacobs Berger have many years of experience in working with clients to successfully obtain an FRO that can better protect their physical safety and mental health.
Consequences and Restrictions of a Final Restraining Order
A Final Restraining Order has many long-term impacts on the defendant’s life. Primarily, the defendant won’t be able to contact the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s family (which can include mutual children depending on the circumstances), or their employer.
In addition, for the defendant, an FRO may:
- Negatively impact a pending child custody agreement or cause a child custody modification
- Prevent the possession or purchase of a firearm
- Require reimbursement of the plaintiff’s financial losses
- Require mandatory attendance of drug or alcohol counseling
- Include psychological evaluations or risk assessments
- Place the defendant on a national domestic violence watch list, accessible by law enforcement agencies
- Result in the defendant losing their job if they work for a state or federal institution
Additionally, if the plaintiff and defendant attend the same school or work for the same employer, the school or employer would need to be notified so that the conditions of the FRO can be adhered to.
Clearly, a great deal is at stake for both sides in a Final Restraining Order hearing. As with any legal matter so important to your financial, legal, and parental future, it’s highly recommended that you retain the legal counsel of an experienced domestic violence attorney during this process.
The Final Restraining Order Hearing Process
While the requirements for presenting evidence to secure a Temporary Restraining Order are fairly low, the requirements in a Final Restraining Order hearing are much higher.
During a Final Restraining Order hearing, detailed evidence must be presented regarding the allegations of domestic violence. This can include photos, medical records, police reports, and third-party witness and character testimony.
An FRO hearing typically takes place within ten days of a TRO being granted.
For the judge to grant an FRO:
- The plaintiff and defendant must have a qualifying domestic relationship, meaning that they are current or former spouses or household members, in a dating relationship, or are expecting a child together
- The defendant must have committed a predicate act of domestic violence
- There must be a continuing need for legal restraints in order to prevent future acts of domestic violence
The Final Restraining Order hearing process involves a great deal of evidence presentation, examination of witnesses, and cross-examination.
The family law attorneys at Jacobs Berger have extensive experience in successfully representing clients on both sides of Final Restraining Order hearings. We understand that this process takes place on a tight timeline and accordingly work with our clients to prepare fully and quickly.
How to Modify Your Final Restraining Order
Final Restraining Orders in New Jersey are permanent and don’t require renewal. In order to modify your FRO, you must file a petition with the court where you were granted the original restraining order.
It’s always recommended that you gather information on domestic violence restraining order enforcement in your new state prior to moving.
Dismissing a Final Restraining Order
While it’s possible for a restraining order to be dismissed, the process is difficult and comes with stringent requirements for either party requesting the dismissal.
If a defendant (accused) wishes to get an existing restraining order dismissed, they’ll need to provide the court with a transcript of the original FRO hearing and demonstrate that the following is true:
- There exists good cause for the order to be dismissed
- The circumstances between the two parties have changed significantly in a manner that suggests the restraining order is no longer necessary
If the plaintiff (victim) wishes to have an FRO dismissed, they’ll need to speak with a court official, who will assess:
- If the request for dismissal is voluntary or a product of coercion
- If the plaintiff fully understands the consequences of an FRO dismissal
- The plaintiff’s understanding of domestic violence cycles and how they can lead to feelings of guilt and responsibility for the abuse suffered
If the court believes everything to be in order, they’ll have the plaintiff sign a “Certification to Dissolve a Restraining Order.” After that, the plaintiff may speak with a judge regarding their request to dissolve the FRO.
Final Restraining Order Violations
Final Restraining Orders are legally binding and the consequences for violating them are significant. Violating an FRO results in a contempt offense, which is considered an act of domestic violence in and of itself.
If found to be valid by the court, contempt offenses can increase the penalties the defendant (accused) has already accumulated. Contempt proceedings will take place separately, and can carry significant financial penalties and time in prison.
A restraining order violation—even a text message or phone call—can result in a mandatory arrest. Depending on the severity of the violation, the defendant may face criminal charges.
Restraining orders have significant consequences. If you’re facing an FRO court hearing, we strongly recommend you speak with a Final Restraining Order attorney.
Speak with a Domestic Violence Attorney in Morristown Today
We take pride in providing knowledgeable legal representation and working diligently to protect your safety, freedoms, and legal future.
If you have an upcoming restraining order hearing, contact us today to schedule a strategic planning session—and protect your future.