Anyone who's ever moved house knows what an incredible hassle it can be. Packing up all of your belongings, carting heavy furniture up and down stairs, and even finding a friend with a pickup truck to help out—the whole process is a stressful pain from start to finish.
Consider how it would feel if you were forced to move because someone you live with has taken out a restraining order against you. As you might imagine, the stress and pressure of this situation go far beyond just moving across town, from one apartment to another. Let's take a look at how to handle—or heck, even survive!—this scenario.
Types of Restraining Orders
There are two types of restraining orders in New Jersey: temporary and final. The temporary restraining order (TRO) can be issued by a judge on an emergency basis, at any time of the day or night. It's intended to provide immediate protection to the plaintiff (and/or their children) and keep them safe in the moment. When issuing the order, the judge will also schedule a hearing to be held within ten days. The purpose of that hearing is to determine whether a final restraining order (FRO) is merited.
Stipulations of the Restraining Order
Both kinds of restraining orders prohibit the defendant from contacting the plaintiff by any means, either directly or through a third party. This includes not just face-to-face communication but telephone, email, “snail mail,” a text, or any type of social media message or interaction.
It tells them to stay away from certain places where the plaintiff is likely to be: their place of employment, the school they attend, or of course, their residence.
But what happens when the plaintiff's home is also the defendant's?
Cohabitation and Restraining Orders
In this situation, the court permits the plaintiff to remain in the residence—even if the defendant's name is on the lease or the deed, even if they're paying all the rent or mortgage. And that means the defendant must vacate the property as soon as the TRO is issued. Believe it or not, remaining in their own home could result in criminal charges being filed against them. What's more, the penalties for violating a restraining order are serious; doing so can result in criminal charges, jail time, fines, and other negative consequences.
If all parties are amenable, however, the defendant may be permitted to enter the home with a police escort in order to gather some of their personal belongings. After that, it is up to the defendant to sort out a place to stay for the night—and quite possibly for many days and nights to come.
There Are No Exceptions
It's crucial for a defendant to understand that there are no exceptions to the restraining order's conditions. For example, the plaintiff could invite the defendant to come pick up more belongings or to talk things over. The two might even reconcile. As long as the RO is still in place, however, the defendant can be arrested and charged for violating its terms, regardless of the plaintiff's objections. The parties must obtain the court's relief before the RO can be dismissed, and they can occupy the same place lawfully.
The Only Recourse You Need
Make no mistake, the defendant in this scenario has very little recourse. They can be kicked out of their own home without even a scrap of clothing besides the shirt on their back. Short of getting an attorney and going through the proper channels, there is nothing they can do to change this legally protected estrangement.
It makes sense, then, to hire the very best lawyer you can if you find yourself homeless because of a protective order taken out against you. That's Joseph D. Lento, whose years of experience defending RO cases have equipped him with the expertise you need. Take the first step toward getting your life back on track and getting back into your home by calling Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or clicking here to contact us.