In 1991, the Legislature found and declared that domestic violence is a serious crime against society. It found that thousands of persons in this State were regularly beaten, tortured and in some cases killed by their spouses or cohabitants. That a significant number of women were assaulted while pregnant. That victims of domestic violence came from all social and economic backgrounds. That there is a positive correlation between spousal abuse and child abuse and that children, even if they are not themselves physically assaulted, suffer deep and lasting emotional effects from exposure to domestic violence. The Legislature further found that some of its most vulnerable citizens, the elderly and disabled, are victims of domestic violence as well.
The Legislature also found that although many of the existing criminal statues were applicable to acts of domestic violence, societal attitudes concerning domestic violence have affected the response of the law enforcement and judicial systems resulting that these acts received different treatment from similar crimes when they occur in a domestic violence.
The Legislature additionally identified the training needs of police and judicial personnel in the procedure and enforcement of this act.
The New Jersey Domestic Violence Act provides for two forms of relief to a victim of domestic violence: Civil relief, which is in the form of obtaining a restraining order, and criminal relief, which allows a victim to
The Judiciary of New Jersey continues to be committed to responding to the needs of victims of domestic violence and their families and continues to make strides in effectuating the legislative mandates as set forth by the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The protective process that is offered by New Jersey is noted as one of the foremost in the country. This Website identifies current initiatives that the Judiciary has undertaken.
Under the federal Violence Against Women Act, a victim who has a restraining order from her/his home state and flees to another state to seek safety from further abuse may seek enforcement of the existing restraining order in the new state. The new state must provide full faith and credit to any existing restraining order or order of protection. The Family Practice Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the State Domestic Violence Working Group and members of its Full Faith and Credit Subcommittee, have been working diligently to ensure that a victim of domestic violence receives the protection
If you have a Domestic Violence Restraining Order or Order of Protection from another state or U.S. Territory and you now live in New Jersey or are moving to New Jersey, you have choices regarding your existing
1. Do nothing with the Order. New Jersey Courts and law
2. You can have your out-of-state Order recognized by New Jersey Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, as a valid order or you
The Judiciary’s Family Case Tracking System (FACTS) has the capacity to record out-of-state domestic violence restraining orders, which provides further protection to victims who have relocated to this state.
In October 1991, the first Domestic Violence Procedures Manual was promulgated by the Supreme Court and the Attorney General. The Procedures Manual receives revision as needed to accommodate legislative and statutory changes. The Procedures Manual was last revised in November 1998. The Procedures Manual contains standardized procedures and guidelines for the law
The Family Practice Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts assists in organizing training and or training on the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. In 2001, members of this Division organized training
The State Domestic Violence Working Group, pursuant to its original mandate as directed by the New Jersey Supreme Court, is charged with the responsibility of resolving the systemic issues facing the courts in the area of domestic violence. The State Working Group is chaired by two Assignment Judges, and is comprised of thirty-eight individuals. Representatives to the
Various Subcommittees have been formed from the State Working Group to work on specific issues charged to that individual
In September 1991, the Supreme Court and the Attorney General issued a joint memorandum requesting that each Family Division Presiding Judge and County Prosecutor convene or reconvene a County Domestic Violence Working Group in each of New Jersey’s twenty-one counties. The County Working Groups assist in the design of a county implementation and monitoring strategy of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and of the Domestic Violence Procedures Manual. They also provide, on an ongoing basis, a forum for the identification and resolution of problems in the domestic violence prevention and protection process in that county. The County Working Groups work closely with the Supreme Court’s State Domestic Violence Working Group and with the Governor’s Advisory Council on Domestic
Representatives to the County Working Group includes:
STOP Violence Against Women Act Grants
The Family Practice Division is the recipient of various federal grants through the State Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy. These grant
1) Domestic Violence CD-ROM containing the
In the past, all law enforcement agencies received hard
Distribution to more than a thousand agencies presented its own challenges to ensure that law enforcement had a continuous supply of TROs to meet their needs. This need was addressed by burning the TRO onto a CD-ROM which was distributed to all law enforcement agencies in October 2001. This CD
2) Victim Waiting Rooms
The need for Victim Waiting rooms in every county court has been a long-standing identified need for victims of domestic violence. Victims are too often forced to wait in communal waiting rooms with other litigants. As a result, they may be subjected to further victimization from defendants. Grant monies made possible the establishment of eight Victim Waiting Rooms in the following counties: Cumberland, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Morris, Ocean, Salem and Union Counties. The waiting rooms will be completed by December 2002.
3) Domestic Violence Training Video Tapes
In a joint undertaking between the Family Practice Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Division of Criminal Justice, and the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women, domestic violence training video tapes are being developed to comply with the N.J.S.A. 2C:25-20 which mandates domestic violence training within 90 days of appointment, or transfer for all judges and judicial personnel as well as all law enforcement officers. These tapes will provide a tape library that will be made available for training on the dynamics of domestic violence, the law, and police
4) Domestic Violence Technical Assistance Team
This project began in 1999, and is comprised of the Assignment Judge/Somerset Vicinage and a Domestic Violence Specialist/AOC, Family Practice Division. (The project began to assist and ensure compliance with all Superior Courts Family Part handling and compliance with domestic violence practices and procedures in relation to the Domestic Violence Procedures Manual). The main goal of the project remains to continue to foster relationships with all 21 county Family Courts, to maintain uniformity with practices and procedures as set forth in the Domestic Violence Procedures Manual and the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The project provides on-going peer leadership, technical assistance, and hands-on guidance and support throughout the judiciary.
The Team has completed its rotation to visit, observe, and assess each county’s domestic violence unit, in particular judges and staff performance in the handling of domestic violence cases as measured by “best practice” standards. Each visit was accomplished over a two-three day period of time. The Team will re-visit each county on a one-day basis to assess compliance with the recommendations made by the Team, and to ensure continued compliance with statewide procedures. The Team also attended each county’s Domestic Violence Working Group meeting for observation of compliance with the mandate from the Attorney General and the Supreme Court, in 1991.
The Family Practice Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts presents a Report On The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act; N.J.S.A. 2C: 25-17 et seq. on a yearly basis. This report is a collection of comprehensive data reflecting a detailed picture of domestic violence filings, dispositions, and findings and this data provides critical information to the courts, the public and private agencies working to assist domestic violence victims and their families. In addition, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9b this report also includes data on non-indictable contempt charges, which are processed in Family Court, and on violations of non-contact orders, or other offenses that require arrest and criminal charges,
The most present data January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2000 shows domestic violence complaint filings have remained relatively stable during the past six years, experiencing slight fluctuation in volume since the record high of 63,465 in 1995. While initial filings increased slightly in 1999, every other year between 1996-2000 has shown a slight decline. Domestic violence contempt filings also declined between 1999-2000, down from 10, 593 in
**The 2000 Statistical Report can be accessed here.
New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Central Registry is now fully operational statewide. The registry makes available to law enforcement agencies and Family Court domestic violence personnel up-to-date information on all Restraining Orders entered into the Family Automated Case Tracking System (FACTS). The purpose of this registry serves as a valuable database for law enforcement to facilitate enforcement of Temporary and Final Restraining Orders, and protection to all victims as they move between municipalities, and counties within the state. The Registry is also helpful in providing firearms licensing information to law enforcement personnel for screening of individuals who apply for firearms licensing. This Registry was made possible through funding from the Federal STOP Violence Against Women Act, (VAWA), and through inter-agency cooperation among the Judiciary, the Attorney General’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, and local law enforcement.
The Domestic Violence Hearing Officer (DVHO) program allows specifically selected and trained hearing officers to hear most requests for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) at the Superior Court Family Part. DVHO’s are quasi-judicial personnel specifically trained and sensitized about domestic violence dynamics, issues, and the law to hear initial requests for TROs . Once a DVHO hears a matter and makes a recommendation, a Superior Court Family Part Judge then reviews the recommendations and if approved, the recommendations are incorporated into a TRO, and signed by a judge. The DVHO may only hear ex-parte TRO applications. Ex-parte applications are those applications when only one party is present. The DVHO has the ability to make a recommendation in most cases to award the same remedies as a Superior Court Family Part Judge except in certain excluded cases that include any matter in which a change in custody or visitation is requested, simultaneous cross-complaints, conflicts of interest, pending child abuse/neglect, or any other Family Part matter. A discretionary exclusion involves a matter,
The DVHO program began as a pilot program in 1993 in Hudson and Ocean counties, it became statewide in 1998. Presently, 17 out of New Jersey’s 21 counties have a DVHO. Morris/Sussex vicinage shares the same DVHO who is seated in Morris County, but may hear applications for a TRO in Sussex County via video-conferencing. This is a pilot video-conferencing project that Salem, Warren, Hunterdon, and Cape May Counties may implement in the future. This program continues to be a valuable commitment to the overall effort afforded to domestic violence victims in the state of New Jersey. Use of the DVHO frees up limited judge time and minimizes the need to interrupt ongoing trials in order to provide the emergent relief. Extensive training continues to be a mainstay of the DVHO program in order to ensure the highest quality of service to the public.
Staff from the Family Practice Division assist in various projects that provide information and assistance regarding abuse & neglect cases to the elderly and vulnerable adults.
The Family Practice Division responds to inquiries regarding court procedures and the administrative operations of the Superior Courts, Family Part. Direct inquiries to: Assistant Director Joanne M. Dietrich, Family Practice Division, P. O. Box 983, R.J. Hughes Justice Complex, Trenton, NJ 08625.