It is not easy to dissolve a final restraining order in New Jersey. The Domestic Violence Act of 1981 makes all restraining orders final—that is, permanent—with no ‘sunset provision’ that would allow the order to dissolve at a certain set time. The only way to dissolve a restraining order in New Jersey is by court order.
The simplest way to dissolve a restraining order is for the victim to consent to its dissolution. The victim must go to Family Intake and request the order be lifted. The victim will be screened to determine if they are acting on their own, or if they are being somehow coerced or threatened into making the request, and the victim must be notified of their rights and informed about what the lifting of the order will mean to them. If the victim is determined to be acting independently and in their own best interests, the court may lift the order without further inquiry.
If the victim does not give consent, the defendant must make a motion for the family court to dissolve the order. The judge must review the full record of the original domestic violence hearing, and then determine the eligibility of the request. The things the judge must consider are:
- The victims consent
- The victim’s objective fear of the defendant (Note: ‘objective fear’ is not the same as an individual’s ‘subjective fear’—it is, rather, what a reasonable victim would experience under the same circumstances.)
- The nature of the parties’ current relationship (Do the two parties have children together? Are they re-married? Are they living in areas more geographically distant than previously?)
- Any contempt convictions the defendant may have for violating the restraining order
- Drug and alcohol use
- Other violent acts committed by the defendant
- Any domestic violence counseling the defendant may have participated in
- The age and health of the defendant
- The good faith of the victim
- The existence of any other restraining orders by other jurisdictions
- Any other factors the court deems relevant.
If good cause to dismiss is determined, the court will order a hearing, where the involved parties will have an opportunity to testify, present and cross-examine witnesses, and enter any documentary evidence. Based on the evidence presented, the judge will determine whether or not to dissolve the final restraining order.
Even if a final restraining order is dissolved, the original domestic violence order will still be on the record, but the restraining order itself will no longer be in effect.
If you are seeking the dissolution of your final restraining order, or if you are a victim of domestic violence concerned about the dissolution of a final restraining order, you should consult an attorney to understand your options. Call our office at 856-227-7888, or contact us at [email protected] to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.
The above is not specific legal advice nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship. Do not rely upon it without consulting an attorney to see how the information presented fits your unique circumstances.