Domestic Abuse During The Coronavirus Lockdown

It is no secret that the Coronavirus outbreak has made it difficult for people in the state of New Jersey and across the metropolitan area to continue their everyday lives.  The Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) recommends that all people stay home to avoid the spread of the disease if they are able to do so. In addition, Gov. Philip Murphy ordered all non-essential retail businesses in New Jersey to close. In some families, this can cause certain disruptions. This is especially so for those who live in a home where they are the victim of domestic abuse. It is important to know that those who are experiencing situations such as these can still take action to receive legal protection during this time.

How Can I Protect Myself From Domestic Violence?

Due to the spread of the Coronavirus disease, most courts are unfortunately closed with the exception of limited emergent hearings.  Domestic violence cases fall within the purview of limited emergent hearings. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you can notify the local police department and apply for a temporary restraining order. In doing so, a critical step is explaining to the police why you need the order immediately. Domestic violence includes harassment, assault, terroristic threats, sexual assault, stalking, criminal mischief, lewdness, and other criminal conduct. Reporting any of these acts of abuse to the police should prompt them to commence the procedure where a domestic violence complaint is prepared and an emergent hearing can take place before a municipal court judge who can then grant a temporary restraining order (“TRO”).

Once a TRO is granted, your final court date, known as a “Final Restraining Order hearing,” will take place within 10 days at the Superior Court (which for residents of Monmouth County, is located in Freehold). It is important to prepare for the final hearing by gathering all possible evidence that can prove that your partner, spouse, or other household member has committed an act of domestic violence. This can be done with the assistance of a family law attorney who can guide you through the process and effectively present the evidence to the court.

With everything going on in the world, it may be necessary for a phone or video conference to take place instead of appearing in person. Even still, all victims of domestic abuse should know that New Jersey courts and attorneys remain available to help make sure you are living safely.  Domestic violence cases are extremely fact sensitive and require knowledge of the most recent case law by attorneys hired to represent both victims of domestic violence and persons who have been accused of committing acts of domestic violence.  Litigants should be prepared to hire an attorney who is prepared to work expeditiously and to treat these cases with the importance that they deserve.

Contact our Firm

If you require strong legal representation for matters of divorce and family law in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Murphy to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.

* (Editor’s note: Victoria E. Paone, Esq. is an associate at the Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Murphy working out of the firm’s Red Bank office, located at 120 Maple Avenue. Victoria’s professional history includes clerking in Monmouth County for the Honorable Mara E. Zazzali-Hogan for both the Family part, Chancery Division and Civil Division for 2016-2017. She is currently a member of the New Jersey State Bar, Middlesex Bar Association, Monmouth Bar Association and Aldona E. Appleton Family Law Inn of Court. Victoria limits her practice to divorce, child support, child custody, equitable distribution, alimony, domestic violence, alimony, palimony and all other family law issues. Her monthly column, “Divorce Hotline,” will serve to inform readers as to family law news, advice as to the divorce process, comment on recently published family law cases and more. Victoria is the recipient of the MCBA 2020 Young Lawyer of the Year Award. Paone, Zaleski & Murphy can be contacted at 732-750-9797.)