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What Do I Have to Prove When Filing a Restraining Order in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2022 | Family Law

If you need to file a restraining order against your spouse, you generally need to prove that they are a danger to your safety. This burden of proof can be quite distressing, especially if you are genuinely worried about being harmed. You may be frustrated that the legal system in New Jersey requires you to go through this process. If you are in harm’s way, you may not feel like you have time to gather evidence and prove your case. After all, you need help right away if you are in imminent danger.

If you want to make this legal process as easy and as efficient as possible, it is best to work with an experienced family law attorney in New Jersey. Our legal professionals can help you get your restraining order granted as soon as possible. We can also help you gather convincing evidence and prove that a restraining order is actually necessary.

A Temporary Restraining Order is Granted First

New Jersey recognizes that if you are dealing with an abusive or dangerous spouse, you need help right away. This is why they allow you to pursue a Temporary Restraining Order without much of a delay. Also known as a TRO, you only have to deal with a relatively low burden of proof when it comes to this form of protection. In fact, some TROs are granted without the petitioner ever being in court. A judge can view your written sworn testimony, and law enforcement professionals may assist you in creating a petition for a TRO.

The Preponderance of the Evidence

When a judge views your situation and decides whether or not a restraining order is necessary, you will need to show by a “preponderance of the evidence” that your spouse represents a serious danger to you and or your children. This is the “standard of proof” used in most civil cases in New Jersey. Essentially, all you need to do is prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the restraining order is needed. In New Jersey, there is generally a 51% burden of proof on the plaintiff. This means that it is easier to obtain a protective order than it is to prove that your spouse is guilty of certain crimes in a criminal court.

Final Restraining Orders

After your Temporary Restraining Order has been granted, you will be given a court date for a formal hearing. This usually occurs within 10 days of the TRO being granted. This formal hearing will decide whether or not a Final Restraining Order is needed. These “FROs” are permanent, and they will remain in effect until you tell the court that it is no longer necessary. During this hearing, the burden of proof may be higher. Witnesses will be subject to greater scrutiny, and evidence will be examined with greater care.

A judge will try to determine whether the defendant poses an “imminent” threat to you based on the evidence. After cases like Silver v. Silver, New Jersey has clearly established that isolated arguments or incidents are insufficient reasons to grant an FRO. In addition, there are only 19 specific acts that may necessitate the granting of an FRO. These include assault, cyber-harassment, stalking, sexual assault, and other similar acts of a serious nature.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching for a family law attorney in New Jersey, look no further than Giro, LLP, Attorneys at Law. We have considerable experience with family law cases, and we can help you work toward a positive legal solution. After a restraining order has been granted against your spouse, we can also help you finalize your divorce. Reach out and book your consultation today.