The Impact of Domestic Violence on New Jersey Divorce Proceedings

How Will Custody, Visitation and Property Settlements Be Affected?

The Impact of Domestic Violence on New Jersey Divorce ProceedingsMarriages fail for many reasons—infidelity, financial challenges or incompatibility. Unfortunately, in far too many instances, domestic violence or abuse is a significant factor. What are the potential ramifications of allegations of or even convictions for domestic violence, either before or after a divorce complaint is filed?

What Constitutes Domestic Violence?

Though it can take many forms, domestic violence is generally defined as some act or course of conduct/behavior that is used to coerce or control a person. It can take the form of physical or emotional abuse, isolation, stalking, harassment, economic abuse or even sexual abuse.

In divorce filings and proceedings where there is evidence or an allegation of domestic violence, it’s common for the divorce complaint to be accompanied by a request for a temporary restraining order (TRO). In some situations, the motion for the temporary restraining order will be filed before the divorce complaint. The TRO will legally prohibit a person from engaging in certain actions, such as

  • Coming to your home, work or other location,
  • Coming within a certain distance of you in public
  • Communicating with you without your permission or permission of the court, whether by phone, email, letter or otherwise
  • Stalking
  • Sending gifts

How Will Allegations of Domestic Violence Affect the Outcome of Your Divorce?

The areas most affected by allegations or evidence of domestic violence will be custody and visitation with minor children. While the courts encourage regular and meaningful contact between minor children and both parents, custody and visitation rights will often need to be modified to provide reasonable assurances that the victim(s) of domestic violence will be safe. If the domestic violence was directed toward the spouse, the offender may be prohibited from picking up children without an intermediary or some type of supervision. If the abuse was directed toward minor children, visitation may need to be supervised.

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