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Domestic Violence and Final Restraining Orders in New Jersey (2/3)

At the FRO Hearing, the parties present evidence both as to the allegations of domestic violence and as to the need for injunctive relief, such as spousal or child support, custody or visitation, and the need for substance testing or counseling. The judge may order a risk assessment as well at this time. For a Final Restraining Order to be entered the judge must find there was a predicate act, a prior history of domestic violence, and that a reasonable person would be in fear for their safety based on the totality of the circumstances.

Whether you are a victim of domestic violence or you have been unjustly accused of perpetrating domestic violence, to prepare for the Final Restraining Order hearing:

- Contact any witnesses who saw the incident firsthand and ask them to come to court.

- Get evidence to help you prove or disprove all allegations. Evidence can include any: firsthand accounts by eyewitnesses, medical or police reports, pictures (include dates on photos), etc.

Remember that when you are testifying, you are telling your story to the judge. Be as specific and detailed as possible about the incident in question, but leave out any unrelated information. The judge does not need to know what brand of shampoo you used that morning. If helpful, you may bring some notes or an outline to court to help you remember the events.

On the day of the hearing:

- Dress neatly and be on time, but be prepared to wait

- Do not forget to bring your evidence with you

- Bring any witnesses (they should wait outside the courtroom until called)

- Speak directly to the judge; the judge will understand if you are nervous

- Always be respectful and do not talk back to the judge

- Tell the truth, even the smallest of white lies can destroy your credibility

- If you do not know the answer to a question, say so

- If you do not understand a question,  say so.