Civil courts in New Jersey often approve restraining orders for victims of domestic violence, such as if your spouse or domestic partner assaulted or abused you or your children. However, the state does not allow minors to seek restraining orders against their own parents, or any current or former household member unless the child is over 18 or is emancipated.
An emancipated child is anyone under 18 who has been married, has a child or is pregnant, has entered military service, or has been declared by the court as emancipated. Once your child reaches 18 or becomes emancipated, they will no longer be under your custody, so the situation would not affect your sole custody arrangement.
Nevertheless, there are situations where your child could request a restraining order against you that could put your custody rights in jeopardy.
If you committed violence or abuse against your child, the court can issue a final restraining order against you. This will most certainly affect your custody and visitation rights, and you will need an experienced attorney for help.
Stalking of Children
Another situation a minor can get a restraining order against an adult is for stalking. The order would limit the contact you can have with your child, and a conviction of stalking is not required to have a request approved. Also, if you are ultimately arrested and convicted of stalking, the restraining order could become permanent.
The Court Must Approve the Request
In any case, a parent or guardian of the child must request the order, which in this case, could be their non-custodial parent or another adult relative. The court must approve the restraining order request, and your child and their adult representative will have to clearly show that you committed the offense that warranted a restraining order.
This may be hard for them to prove, especially in the case of stalking. Perhaps your child is mad at you because you are constantly showing up when they're out with their friends, or you insist on taking them and picking them up from school.
Acting as a concerned parent and keeping tabs on your own child is not a crime and should not constitute stalking. The same is true if your child claims domestic violence because you used reasonable corporal punishment to discipline them (e.g., spanked them). However, your situation may be different, and your child may have a legitimate reason to request a restraining order against you.
Restraining Orders and Custody
By their nature, restraining orders limit contact between the victim and the alleged offender, so you would not be able to live under the same roof, and you may be prohibited from contacting them in any way. If your child is successful in getting a restraining order, it can certainly affect your custody arrangement. Therefore, you need a thorough review of your case from a knowledgeable attorney.
Get Help From an Experienced Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have many years of experience representing people in New Jersey who are dealing with restraining order issues. Attorney Lento and his team can evaluate your case and advise you of your options while helping you challenge the allegations and improving your odds of success. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 or complete our online contact form to get the help you need.