Monday, December 28, 2009

Recent NJ Domestic Violence Cases Indicate Changing Tides

The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 et seq. was created in order to protect those placed in danger due to their domestic relationships. Because domestic violence was so widespread, and the consequences potentially serious if the offending party was not stopped, most allegations of domestic violence, no matter how minimal or tenuous, resulted in a restraining order against the alleged perpetrator. Although the statutes continue to serve their intended purpose for those actually needing help, over their years in existence, the statutes have also been abused as a weapon in order to gain advantage in legal matters including divorce, to tarnish reputations causing long-term legal implications and restrictions on liberties, or to remove a spouse or other resident from a home but continue their liability for expenses of said residence. Due to an ever increasing abuse of the domestic violence statutes for wrongful purposes, more recent decisions by the courts in New Jersey indicate a trend away from freely granting restraining orders without actual evidence that the behavior of the party against whom the restraining order is sought actually rises to the level required for protection under the domestic violence statutes.
The consequences of a finding of Domestic Violence against a party can be serious and permanent. Those accused of acts of domestic violence should seek counsel immediately in order to protect their rights and insure that a Final Restraining Order is not issued due to a lack of representation.
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