The recent act of domestic violence by singer Chris Brown on his very famous girlfriend, Rihanna, has brought new attention to the fact that domestic violence is not a socio-economic problem limited to the lower class. Unfortunately, I often see the ugly side of relationships and not surprisingly domestic violence is an issue I also deal with. New Jersey is attempting to help protect victims of domestic violence by protecting the victims essentially from themselves.
In New Jersey a victim of domestic violence can apply for a temporary restraining order at a county courthouse or at a police station by applying to a municipal judge. Once a temporary restraining order is issued either a hearing is held where it becomes final or it is dismissed. (The temporary restraining order can also be resolved through negotiations amongst the parties if there is an active divorce or other family court action pending – however, the resolution will not have the same protections and enforcement rights that a domestic violence restraining order does.)
If this bill is passed, what happens in those instances where an individual is falsifying an act of domestic violence in order to get an advantage in the divorce action or to have the other party removed from the residence? Unfortunately, there are instances where the Prevention Against Domestic Violence Act is abused by individuals who falsify claims of domestic violence for just these reasons. It would appear that in a case where the claims have been falsified, under this new proposed legislature, the other party could essentially be held hostage by the threat of returning to court and imposing restraints. It seems to me that the legislature may need to add more protections to ensure the law is not abused.