Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Who is a Victim of Domestic Violence?

As an NJ Family lawyer, I am frequently asked, “Can I against a restraining order?” When this occurs, I must first determine whether New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (“the Act”) protects the victim. Therefore, I must learn certain facts surrounding the situation.

First, the victim must be over the age of 18 years of age or is an emancipated minor. Typical examples of an emancipated minor include if they are married, are enlisted in military service, has a child or is pregnant, or have been declared by a Court Order as legally emancipated;

Second, The victim must be deemed as a “household member.” When a law enforcement officer appears on the scene, they must determine the length of time that the two persons have resided together. When in doubt, the officer must contact a supervising officer or the municipal court judge.

Obviously, a marriage falls within the jurisdiction of New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Act. However, a “dating relationship” is also included under the Act to protect victims. Here, the analysis gets a little more complicated. To wit, while the victim of a dating relationship may be under the age of 18, the assailant must be over the age of 18. Furthermore, the officer who arrives on the scene is granted great discretion when determining whether an actual dating relationship exists between the parties involved. This analysis includes the length of time of the relationship, how often the parties interacted with one another and the length of time that has elapsed if the relationship was terminated.

The Courts in the state of NJ frequently must analyze what a “dating relationship” means under the Act. In a recent case, it was determined that a single date, consisting of drinks, dancing and dinner did not represent a “dating relationship.” While the alleged victim in this matter obtained a Final Restraining Order, the trial court was overruled by New Jersey’s Appellate Division

Of course, if you or a loved one has any questions regarding New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Act, please refer to my web site or never hesitate to contact my office to discuss any and all inquiries that you may have.