The Appellate Division recently issued a published (precedential) decision in the matter of G.M. v. C.V. providing some clarification on procedures that must be followed when a transcript is not available to serve as a record of a prior hearing.

In G.M., a domestic violence restraining order had been entered between the parties in

At the time of a break-up of a relationship, clearly emotions are high, it is contentious and people often do or say things that they normally would not. Unfortunately, during this time period where many feel like they are on an emotional roller coaster, the tension escalates to the point where one party has filed a Complaint for Domestic Violence as a result of the actions and/or comments of the other party and the Court enters a Final Restraining Order. Once the emotional roller coaster ride stops, does the defendant have the ability to ask that the Restraining Order be dismissed? The answer is yes but the more important inquiry is whether or not such request will be granted. 

In New Jersey, either party to a Domestic Violence Restraining Order may request dismissal of the Restraining Order by way of Motion filed with the Court. The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act states that “Upon good cause shown, any final restraining order may be dissolved or modified upon application to the Family Part…” N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29d. In other words, simply asking for a dismissal– even if you are the plaintiff or the victim– does not automatically warrant a dismissal of the Restraining Order. 

 

If the Defendant files the Motion to dismiss the Restraining Order, there are eleven factors for the Court to consider when determining whether or not “good cause” exists to dismiss a Restraining Order: the victim’s consent; current relationship of the parties; number of contempt convictions; use of drugs or alcohol; whether defendant is violent with others; whether the aggressor attends counseling; age and health of the aggressor; whether the victim is acting in “good faith” when opposing the dismissal; whether there are any other domestic violence restraining orders between the parties in other jurisdictions; and any other relevant considerations relevant to dismissal of the Restraining Order.

 

If the Plaintiff is the party making a request for dismissal, before any dismissal is entered, the Court must discern whether the plaintiff is seeking the dismissal voluntarily, without coercion or duress; if the plaintiff understands the cycle of violence that occurs in the domestic violence setting; and if the plaintiff understands the loss of protection if the Restraining Order is dismissed.

Notably, regardless of whether or not Plaintiff consents to, wants to have and does have communication with a defendant to a Restraining order, unless the Court has dismissed the Restraining Order, it remains in full force and effect.


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