New Jersey's approach to domestic violence in family law

New Jersey's Legislative Response to Domestic Violence

In New Jersey, domestic violence is a serious issue that the state has addressed through comprehensive legislation and family law policies. The state’s approach to domestic violence is embodied in the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (NJPVDA), established in 1991. This Act offers civil remedies and legal protections to victims, illustrating New Jersey's commitment to combating domestic violence within its jurisdictions.

Protective Measures and Legal Protections

The NJPVDA allows for victims of domestic violence to apply for Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) which can be made permanent as Final Restraining Orders (FROs) after a court hearing. These orders are crucial as they aim to provide immediate protection to the victim by prohibiting the abuser from entering the victim’s residence, place of work, or having any contact with the victim or their relatives.

Historically, the issuance of restraining orders has been a pivotal step in protecting victims and preventing further abuse. For example, in the landmark case of Silver v. Silver, the New Jersey Supreme Court emphasized the importance of TROs and FROs in providing safety for domestic violence victims.

Comprehensive Definition of Domestic Violence

New Jersey law recognizes a wide range of behaviors as domestic violence, including but not limited to physical assault, harassment, stalking, and sexual assault. The broad definition ensures that various forms of abuse are acknowledged and addressed within family law proceedings.

Criminal Proceedings and Family Law Intersection

While domestic violence can result in criminal prosecution, it also has significant implications in family law. For instance, acts of domestic violence are taken into consideration during child custody and visitation proceedings. New Jersey courts prioritize the safety and welfare of children when determining custody arrangements, which often means that a history of domestic violence can impact a parent's custodial rights.

The Role of Domestic Violence in Divorce Proceedings

In divorce cases, evidence of domestic violence may influence alimony and property division decisions. The courts consider abuse as a factor when determining an equitable distribution of assets and may also take it into account when awarding spousal support.

Educational Programs and Resources

New Jersey has implemented various educational programs aimed at preventing domestic violence and supporting victims. These include mandatory training for police officers on how to handle domestic violence calls effectively and safely, as well as public awareness campaigns to educate residents about the signs of abuse and available resources.


New Jersey's family law system demonstrates a strong commitment to protecting victims of domestic violence through both preventative measures and legal recourse. By offering a robust framework for victims to seek protection and holding abusers accountable through the legal system, New Jersey’s approach serves as an example for comprehensive domestic violence legislation.