How to File an Emergency Restraining Order


How to File an Emergency Restraining Order

Our skilled New Jersey family lawyers file emergency protective orders

Spouses, children, and other family members have rights if a husband, father, or another close relative (either sex) abuses you or someone in your household. There are practical steps you should take such as removing yourself from a dangerous situation until the police can be called and until the courts can intervene. These steps include seeking shelter at community facilities and calling an experienced New Jersey abuse lawyer.

The key form of protection is to file an emergency restraining order. New Jersey authorizes an emergency order of protection based on the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991. This law provides for two types of restraining orders – a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a final restraining order (FRO). 

Restraining orders forbid a named person from contacting you or getting within a specific distance from you for a specific length of time. You can file an emergency restraining order to protect yourself or a close relative (as defined in that statute) from future domestic violence acts. A restraining order generally applies to your family and/or people who live with you. You should consider filing an emergency restraining order to prevent defendants from contacting you at your home or at your workplace.

When can you file an emergency restraining order to prevent domestic violence?

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, or verbal. It can be due to a single act or repeat conduct. The law generally applies to two people who are spouses, who live together now or did so recently, or who have or are expecting a child. Acts of domestic violence include, but are not limited to assault, criminal sexual contact, harassment, false imprisonment, lewdness, stalking, terroristic threats, and many other types of conduct that threaten your safety and your security.

Who can file an emergency restraining order in New Jersey?

The following people can file emergency restraining orders:

  •       The current spouse.
  •       A current or prior member of the household.
  •       Someone with whom the victims of domestic violence dated.
  •       Someone the victim had a child with or is waiting for a newborn to be borne from the relationship.

Emancipated minors may also be able to file an emergency restraining order.

Cases against abusers who are minors and not emancipated are normally heard in juvenile court.

Temporary restraining orders

TROs are normally emergency ex parte orders. You can file an emergency restraining order that is temporary by:

  •       Seeking a TRO (we recommend highly that you use a skilled family lawyer) with the Domestic Violence Unit of your county’s family division. Court personnel will review your emergency temporary restraining order request to review your eligibility. A judge or domestic violence hearing officer will hear your ex parte order family court request as soon as possible. 
  •       Filing a complaint with the police department where you live or where you are sheltering, where the defendant lives, or where the act of domestic violence occurred. In this case (if you file an emergency restraining order with the local police) a municipal court judge will hear the TRO request – either in person or on the phone.

What happens if you file an emergency restraining order and the TRO is granted?

After the TRO is granted, law enforcement will serve the defendant and notify the defendant of the date to determine if the TRO should be made a final order. Hearings are normally scheduled within 10 days of the TRO order. Law enforcement will seize any firearms the defendant possesses.

Your spouse or anyone served with a TRO will be ordered to vacate your home while the TRO is in effect – even if the home is titled in the defendant’s name. This means the TRO will include an emergency no-contact order.

A TRO order can also provide for an emergency ex parte order of custody of your children.

An ex parte order custody gives your custody of your children until there is a formal hearing on whether the TRO should become a final restraining order.

Obtaining a Final Restraining Order in New Jersey

After you file an emergency restraining order request and the ex-parte TRO is granted, there is a formal hearing. At the hearing, both the complainant and the defendant can present testimony and arguments.

The judge will review whether there is a qualifying relationship, whether the defendant has violated the Act, and whether there is an immediate need for a final restraining order to prevent future acts of domestic violence. If the judge finds that these three criteria are met, he/she can enter a final restraining order. 

The final restraining order can provide for:

  •       Protection against future domestic violence.
  •       No contact and no harassment orders.
  •       Temporary custody of minor children.
  •       Temporary possession of the home and personal property.
  •       A duty of the defendant to pay financial support such as rent/mortgage payments and child support.
  •       Counseling/therapy.
  •       An order prohibiting the defendant from having any weapons.

After you file an emergency restraining order that becomes a FRO, the defendant will be photographed and fingerprinted so the police can enter the information in their database.

The FRO remains in place until the Court formally dissolved the FRO.

There are other types of restraining orders such as sexual assault restraining orders and extreme risk protective orders

At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, we’re ready to file an emergency restraining order complaint as soon as you call us. We understand the trauma you’re going through. Our lawyers will help you understand what happens when you file an emergency restraining order and how to protect yourself and your family during this difficult time. To discuss your concerns, call us at 908-691-2104 or fill out our contact form to discuss your rights. We have offices in Clinton and Morristown.


Carolyn B. Hand
Carolyn Hand is a passionate and experienced litigator specializing in family law. In 2020, she was named partner at DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law. Carolyn represents clients in family court in all matters pertaining to divorce, custody...
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