Does a New Jersey Final Restraining Order really last forever?

In the State of New Jersey, there is no limitation on the length of time a Final Restraining Order (“FRO”) will remain in effect once it is issued by a family court judge following an evidentiary hearing.  This is different from other jurisdictions, which might have a restraining orders that last only for a period of 6 months or 1 year. Also, a FRO issued by a family court judge is different than a no contact order which may be put into effect as part of a criminal proceeding, where contact with the victim by the perpetrator needs to be limited to only court appearances.

In New Jersey, a FRO remains in effect until such time as one of the parties seeks it dissolution. While the individual who secured the benefits of a FRO, will be able to appear at the courthouse, and request the dissolution of same, by going under oath before a judge to confirm that the removal of the restraints is being done freely and voluntarily.  For a defendant, the process is more involved. If a defendant seeks to dissolve a FRO which was entered against them, this will be accomplished only after a formal motion and a hearing on the issue will a judge make a decision on whether or not the restraints should be dissolved. In Carfagno v. Carfagno, 288 N.J. Super. 424, a trial court established certain factors to consider when faced with a request to dissolve a final restraining order.  Those factors are:

  1.  Consent of victim to lift the order;
  2.  Victim’s fear of the Defendant;
  3.  Nature of the relationship between the parties today;
  4.  Contempt convictions;
  5.  Alcohol and drug involvement;
  6.  Other violent acts;
  7.  Whether Defendant has engaged in domestic violence counseling;
  8.  Age/health of Defendant;
  9.  Good faith of victim;
  10. Orders entered by other jurisdictions; and
  11. Other factors deemed relevant by the Court.

A court may dissolve a restraining order when to continue its restraints would be inequitable, oppressive, unjust or contrary to public policy.

There is no perfect time to dissolve a FRO, and the weight the court gives each of the above factors will depend largely on the passage of time between the incident and issuance of the FRO and when the request for dissolution is made.  Speak with an experienced family law attorney on this issue prior to filing a motion with the court to dissolve a FRO or to oppose the dissolution of the FRO.  Please contact our offices to schedule a consultation to discuss your options today.

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