Orders for Protection – Who Do They Cover and Child Custody

In the United States, one in three women and one in four men have been victims of domestic violence.  Unfortunately, New Jersey is not free from the very serious problem posed by violence, and the vast majority of victims never even report the violence.  Fortunately, there are resources available for victims, including hotlines and shelters.  One tool that victims of abuse can use is to apply for an order of protection.

A victim of domestic abuse can apply for an order of protection if domestic abuse has happened or if there is an imminent threat that abuse will occur.  Who is covered under the order of protection will depend on the abuse or the threats.  A victim can apply for an order on his or her own behalf or on behalf of his or her minor children. 

Orders for protection can present special challenges when the abuser is the child’s other parent.  The order for protection can provide that the abuser is not allowed to come anywhere around the child’s residence or school and cannot contact the child at all.  However, an order for protection can also make provision for the accused abuser to maintain a relationship with the child. Especially where the order for protection covers the parent but not specifically the child, the order for protection should provide specific instructions on how the parents can communicate regarding parenting issues and how the child should be exchanged.  An order for protection can also address issues of child support.

If there is an order for protection in existence, it will have an impact on child custody proceedings.  New Jersey courts must make child custody decisions based on what is in the child’s best interest.  The New Jersey statute contains a list of factors to be considered, and the existence of domestic violence is one issue the court must consider.  However, it is important to note that the existence of an order for protection will not automatically mean that the victim parent is awarded sole custody of the parties’ children.  The court is required to make an order the provides for the child’s safety and although the existence of domestic violence is highly relevant to that inquiry, the court may also decide that the child’s safety and welfare may be adequately protected even with giving the accused abuser joint custody.

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We have extensive experience helping clients with custody cases involving domestic violence.  Call us today to talk about your case.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us atinfo@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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