The protections afforded by New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act are deliberately liberal for the benefit of abuse victims. Those protections, however, have seemingly expanded to an even greater degree under a new published (precedential) decision from the Appellate Division released on January 26, 2011. In S.Z. v. M.C., the Appellate Division ruled that an

One of the main questions often arising in a potential domestic violence scenario is whether the victim is protected by the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.  Courts have broadly interpreted the Act’s terms to protect victims within the Act’s legislative purpose. 

For instance, a "victim of domestic violence" under the Act must be a person 18 years of age or older who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse or any other person who is a "present or former household member."  What does "former household member" actually mean?  Courts have concluded that while more than a casual dating relationship is required, the parties need not actually reside together. 

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