Representing Plaintiffs in New Jersey Restraining Order Cases

Filing for a restraining order can be overwhelming. There's a lot of information available, and it can be difficult to find out where to start. If you are worried about your safety or the safety of a loved one and are considering filing for a restraining order in New Jersey, this guide is for you.

At the Lento Law Firm, we understand the tumultuous time you're going through right now, and we can help you with that. Our Criminal Defense Team can guide you through the process of obtaining a restraining order and help you build your case for your hearing. Additionally, we can represent you at your hearing. We're ready to help you seek safety and protection. Call our firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us via our form, and a member of our team will reach out to you.

Restraining Orders in New Jersey

In New Jersey, a restraining order is a legally binding order that prevents another person from contacting you or being present in the same vicinity as you. It's meant to protect you from violence or the threat of violence from someone close to you, such as a spouse, domestic partner, ex-spouse, or live-in family member.

New Jersey has two basic types of restraining orders: temporary restraining orders (TRO) and final restraining orders (FRO). When you first apply for a restraining order against someone, they will receive a TRO. This TRO lasts for 10 days, and then there's a hearing to determine if the TRO should be renewed as an FRO or dismissed. When the defendant receives the TRO, they must obey all the restrictions, which usually include cutting off contact with you and leaving the house if you live together. They must also turn over all firearms if they own any.

When to Apply for a Restraining Order

The most common reason that individuals apply for a restraining order is to avoid domestic violence. In order for a judge to grant a restraining order, there must be what is considered "assaultive behavior" in the category of either sexual assault or domestic violence.

If you are seeking protection from any of the following behaviors, you can apply for a restraining order:

  • Assault
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Sexual assault
  • Threats
  • Kidnapping
  • False imprisonment (restraining someone against their will)

When you file for a restraining order, you must go to your local county court and fill out a petition. You have to include a detailed explanation of what happened, including things like the date, time, and location of the alleged incident.

Who Can Apply for a Restraining Order

Under New Jersey law, individuals who claim domestic violence have the right to request a restraining order. These orders may be easily granted in most cases, as judges tend to err on the side of caution. The judge will most likely issue a TRO, which is temporary.

To qualify as a "victim of domestic violence" in New Jersey, a person must be:

  • At least 18 years old (or an emancipated minor) and have been physically attacked by a spouse, former spouse, current or past roommates, or housemates.
  • Someone who has been assaulted by a co-parent or potential co-parent.
  • Someone who has been assaulted by a romantic partner.

Additionally, New Jersey law allows for temporary restraining orders to be requested by someone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct, such as rape, sexual assault, attempted rape, sexual assault, or lewdness. In cases of stalking, a temporary restraining order can be made permanent if the accused is later convicted of stalking.

Restraining Order Process in New Jersey

In cases of domestic violence or sexual assault, you have the option to request a TRO. To issue a TRO, the judge will only consider your perspective and evidence without informing the other party. If the judge deems it necessary to protect your safety, they will issue the TRO and schedule a hearing for an FRO, typically within ten days.

During the final hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to share their side of the story and present evidence and witnesses. For a domestic violence FRO to be granted, the judge must determine that there is a qualified domestic relationship, the defendant committed an act of violence, and there is an urgent need for restraints to prevent future violence. In the case of a sexual assault final restraining order, the judge must find that there was non-consensual sexual contact, penetration, lewdness, or an attempt of such conduct or that the defendant has admitted to the act.

If an FRO is issued, it will typically include more specific provisions than a temporary one, such as:

  • Prohibiting contact or harassment between the parties
  • Temporary custody of children
  • Financial support
  • Protection from violence
  • Restricting the defendant from possessing firearms
  • Counseling or therapy

What Information Do You Need to Fill Out a Restraining Order?

The "New Jersey Domestic Violence Civil Complaint and Temporary Restraining Order" is a document that is issued as a temporary restraining order (TRO). It is a four-page form that requires the defendant's personal information, such as name, date of birth, social security number, address, phone number, work phone number, and physical description. The plaintiff's signature is also required on the form, which is divided into several sections.

Defendant Information

This section of the form includes a detailed description of the defendant's actions that endangered your life, well-being, or health, along with the specific date, location, and details of the incident. You can also attach a police report and indicate any criminal offenses that may have occurred.

Documents and information to include in this part of the form are:

  • Prior history of domestic violence, including any police reports
  • Criminal history or criminal complaints related to the matter
  • Whether the police confiscated any weapons during a domestic violence call and if the defendant was arrested
  • Information about any children involved, including their names, ages, sex, and where they currently reside
  • The current or former relationship between the plaintiff and defendant

Relief Requested

In this section, you can specify what kind of protection you want, such as:

  • Prohibiting future violent acts
  • Prohibiting the defendant from returning to the location of the violence
  • Barring the defendant from specific places, such as work, school, or the home
  • Preventing the defendant from harassing you or causing others to do so
  • Prohibiting stalking, following, or making threats against you
  • Ordering the defendant to provide emergency financial support
  • Monitoring the defendant's actions
  • Ordering a psychiatric evaluation
  • Banning the defendant from possessing firearms or weapons and requiring them to surrender any licenses
  • Granting you exclusive possession of a shared residence
  • Granting temporary child custody
  • Ordering the police to accompany either party to the residence to retrieve personal belongings
  • Ordering parenting time or no parenting time
  • Ordering punitive damages
  • Ordering spousal or child support
  • Ordering medical coverage
  • Ordering rent or mortgage payments
  • Ordering the defendant to attend a batterer's intervention program
  • Ordering temporary possession of specific property, such as a car

The order also notifies the defendant that violating the order can result in civil or criminal contempt charges.

Warrant to Search for Weapons

The order also includes a warrant that allows the police to search for and seize any weapons from the defendant.

Notice to Appear

The TRO also contains a notice for both parties to appear at a final restraining order hearing on a specified date. The notice informs the parties to bring documents such as pay stubs, mortgage or rent information, health insurance information, and financial records.

Return of Service

This section indicates how the police served the defendant and includes the defendant's signature, acknowledging receipt of the complaint.

The TRO form can also be found on the New Jersey court webpage.

Is a Restraining Order a Criminal Charge in New Jersey?

A restraining order by itself is not a criminal charge, even if it becomes final. The matter is handled in civil court. It will not, therefore, show up on the defendant's criminal record. It might show up in a generalized background check if the entity doing the check does a thorough search.

If the defendant violates the restraining order, i.e., contacts you or shows up at your home, work, or school, you can report it to the police. The defendant will then be charged with a crime—criminal contempt of a court order. If convicted, they could face a fine of up to $10,000 and 18 months in prison. If the defendant commits an act of domestic violence while also violating the restraining order, they could be charged with other crimes in addition to criminal contempt.

For the defendant to be guilty of criminal contempt, they must purposely or knowingly disobey a judicial order. If they show up in the same public place as you without knowing in advance that you are there, it's possible they won't be convicted of criminal contempt since it was unknowingly done.

The Duration of a Restraining Order

The duration of a restraining order depends on what kind it is. They can either be temporary or permanent.


A TRO is temporary and usually lasts 10 days. It's valid right away until the FRO hearing, when it is either dismissed or a final order replaces it. You can be granted a TRO without the defendant's knowledge or consent. You will be legally protected by the TRO immediately.

Emergency Restraining Order

If you find that you need immediate protection, but it's after hours and the courts are closed, you can file for an ex parte emergency restraining order. There is usually a municipal judge who is "on-call" for these situations and can grant your restraining order. It takes effect immediately and is valid until the next business day, when the courts open again. When the next business day arrives, you will have to go to the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court to re-file and obtain a TRO.


At the FRO hearing, the judge will decide whether to dismiss the TRO or issue an FRO. If the FRO is granted, it's permanent—there's no expiration date or period of validity for an FRO. It remains in place until you or the defendant petitions to have it lifted (which the court must agree to first).

Sexual Assault Restraining Order

In New Jersey, you can also apply for a sexual assault restraining order under the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act (SASPA). The SASPA restraining order is similar to the TRO. It usually lasts for 10 days, followed by a hearing for a final order. The difference is that the defendant doesn't have to have a domestic or intimate relationship with you to apply for a sexual assault restraining order.

Can the Defendant File a Counter Restraining Order?

Yes, the defendant has the right to file a restraining order against you as well. It's referred to as cross-complaint or cross-petition. You will both have the opportunity to present your cases at a hearing, which may be the same hearing or two different ones. It's also possible for both of you to have an FRO filed against you, meaning that you would also have to refrain from contacting that person and being in their presence.

The Lento Law Firm Can Represent You in Your Restraining Order Case

The Lento Law Firm helps people throughout New Jersey with restraining orders and fully understands the procedures for obtaining one. We use our experience to assist plaintiffs in New Jersey in securing safety and protection. The Lento Law Firm can guide you and are currently pursuing a restraining order against another individual and require our assistance, please contact the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team at 888-535-3686 or fill out our contact form with your information.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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