If you or your children have experienced domestic violence from your spouse, you can and should report that abuse to law enforcement. Domestic violence includes, but is not limited to, pushing, shoving, restraining, hitting, punching, pinching, throwing of objects, destruction of property, and use or threat to use a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
Abuse of children is very serious, and should be reported both to law enforcement and to Child Protective Services. It is your responsibility as the non-abusing parent to protect your children, and to take steps to remove them from contact with the abusing parent.
Law enforcement will respond to your location to investigate a report of domestic violence. If they find probable cause that domestic violence has been committed, they will incarcerate the defendant (such as your spouse) overnight, which would give you the opportunity to either move out to another residence, move to a shelter, obtain an Order of Protection, and/or file for legal protection with the Family Law Division of the Superior Court.
Emergency orders can be obtained from the Superior Court Family Law Division which would protect the abused spouse and the children. These could include emergency orders related to custody, parenting time, and exclusive use and possession of the family residence.
An Order of Protection can be obtained from Superior Court, Justice Court, or City Court. It may be granted at the request of a person to prevent another person from engaging in certain activity. It is limited to parties with specified relationships between them such as a spouse or former spouse, persons who have a child in common, a woman who is pregnant by the other party, a relationship by blood or court order such as parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister or “in-law” relationships by marriage, or “step” relationships such as stepparent, step-grandparent, or stepchild.
The Court will issue an Order of Protection if there is reasonable cause to believe the the defendant may commit an act of domestic violence or the defendant has committed an act of domestic violence within the past year or within a longer period of time if the court finds that good cause exists to consider a longer period.
If the court issues an Order of Protection the court may give relief such as restraining the defendant from contacting the victim or other specifically designated persons and from coming near the victim’s residence, place of employment or other locations; granting one party the use and exclusive possession of the parties’ residence, prohibiting the defendant from possessing or purchasing a firearm for the duration of the order, ordering the defendant not to commit domestic violence, and/or ordering the defendant into a domestic violence offender treatment program.
The defendant is entitled to a prompt hearing to try and get the Order of Protection terminated or modified.
You cannot use an Order of Protection to keep a parent away from a child unless the court determines that there is reasonable cause to believe physical harm has resulted or may result to the child, or the alleged acts of domestic violence involved the child.
An Injunction Against Harassment may be granted by Superior Court, Justice Court or City Court to prevent a person from committing acts of harassment against another person. There is no specified relationship requirement between the Plaintiff and Defendant. To obtain an injunction against harassment, you need to provide the court with reasonable evidence that harassment has occurred during the year preceding the filing of the petition or that good cause exists to believe that great or irreparable harm would result to you if the injunction is not granted before the defendant can be heard in opposition. Examples of acts of harassment include stalking, unwanted and repetitive electronic contact or communication, or any type of unwanted contact.