A Domestic Violence TRO Can Impact the Outcome of a Divorce in New Jersey Family Court
A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued due to an allegation of domestic violence can have several immediate negative effects on the person subject to the order, including being ordered to move out of the house, prohibited from having contact with his or her children, and prohibited from possessing a firearm. In addition, if you are in the midst of or become involved in divorce proceedings, the consequences can be even more severe. Having a New Jersey restraining order issued against you can seriously impact the outcome of the divorce, with adverse effects being felt for years into the future.
In a divorce, the main issues to be decided by the court are the division of marital property, deciding who gets custody of the children, and the payment of child support and spousal support. A restraining order in New Jersey can negatively affect the outcome for the subject of the order in all of these areas.
Child Custody – The decision whether to grant sole custody or joint custody is made by the court in the best interests of the children. The presence of domestic violence may create a presumption against that parent sharing in custody. Even if some form of shared custody is allowed, the court may still order supervised visitation or place other restrictions on the parenting arrangement.
Child Support – Generally speaking, the noncustodial parent pays support to the parent with sole or primary custody. If the restraining order has led to the parent losing custody or having only limited custodial time, he or she will likely be the one paying support as well.
Spousal Support – The family court is allowed to consider any factor it deems relevant in deciding whether to award spousal support (also known as alimony or maintenance) and if so, how much. The conduct of the spouses during marriage, including domestic violence, may be considered. In addition, a TRO itself can order a spouse to pay financial support, and the family law judge may continue that order with a long-term or permanent award of maintenance.
Property Settlement – A restraining order may give temporary possession of the home to the alleged victim and force the subject of the order to move out. The order may also award possession of the car and other property. When the family court divides marital property, it makes an equitable distribution, based on what the judge deems to be fair. If one parent has already been awarded possession of the home, and especially if that parent has been given custody of the children, the court may give the home to that spouse for reasons of stability and continuity.
If a TRO has been issued against you, you will have the opportunity to appear in court and challenge the order before it is converted to a final order. Having the advice and representation of an experienced New Jersey restraining order attorney can be crucial to keeping a temporary restraining order from becoming permanent and having serious, long-term effects on your life.