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Can I Drop A Temporary Restraining Order Before Court??

For a variety of reasons, Plaintiffs in domestic violence cases may want to dismiss or “drop” a temporary restraining order before their final hearing. There may be financial, emotional, practical, or other considerations that make victims of domestic violence disinclined to obtain a final restraining order (FRO) against their former spouse or romantic partner. 


Fortunately, there are mechanisms besides a final restraining order trial that can offer Plaintiffs some protection from acts of domestic violence. This article details those avenues for relief and how they differ from obtaining a final domestic violence restraining order.

What is a Temporary Restraining Order?

How Long Does a Temporary Restraining Order Last in NJ?

A temporary restraining order (TRO) is a temporary order of protection meant to offer provisional relief for victims of domestic violence. To obtain a TRO in New Jersey, you can either go to your local police department or to the Family Division of the Superior Court in the county where you reside or where the incident took place.


To obtain a temporary restraining order, the Plaintiff must show that they and the Defendant have a qualifying domestic relationship – meaning that they are co-parents, dating partners, expectant parents, unmarried partners, a married couple, a previously married couple, or members of the same household.


The Plaintiff must also show that the Defendant committed an act of domestic violence and that they need a restraining order to prevent further acts of domestic violence and to protect their safety and wellbeing. 


A TRO can include no-contact provisions, ordering the Defendant or alleged abuser to stay away from the Plaintiff. It can also suspend the Defendant’s parenting time or can alter the terms of the parties’ child custody arrangements. Furthermore, it can preclude a Defendant from returning to their home if they reside with the Plaintiff and can prohibit the Defendant from possessing a firearm or other weapon.


Once a judge issues a TRO, the Court Order is served on the Defendant and a Final Restraining Order (FRO) hearing is scheduled within ten days. However, either the Plaintiff or the Defendant may request an adjournment or postponement of an FRO trial to afford them time to obtain a domestic violence attorney or for some other good cause. 


If the restraining order case proceeds to a final hearing, both the Plaintiff and the Defendant will have the opportunity to introduce evidence and present witness testimony to either support or refute the basis for the restraining order.

As the title implies, a temporary restraining order is short-lived or temporary in nature. It lasts until the parties either go to trial or enter into a negotiated settlement, as detailed below. 

If the parties elect to go to trial, the TRO will be transformed into a Final Restraining Order (FRO) if there is sufficient evidence to find that an FRO is warranted under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. If there is not sufficient evidence to support obtaining an FRO, the Court will dismiss the TRO after the final hearing.

How Long Does a Temporary Restraining Order Last in NJ?

What is A Civil Restraint Order?

Can I Drop A Temporary Restraining Order Before Court?

Prior to an FRO trial, the parties to the domestic violence action or their attorneys can attempt to negotiate a civil restraints agreement. 


Essentially, a civil restraints order is a mechanism by which the parties can avoid a domestic violence trial by coming to a negotiated settlement. As part of that settlement, the Plaintiff agrees to dismiss or “drop” the TRO in exchange for certain settlement terms. 


The terms of a civil restraints settlement can include an agreement for the parties not to contact one another and to refrain from future acts of domestic violence, such as stalking and harassment. 


The agreement can also include remedies for either party violating the civil restraints order. For example, if there is a future violation, the Plaintiff and Defendant may agree that the violating party should be responsible for the non-violating party’s court costs and attorney’s fees. 

Lastly, civil restraints can include provisions related to child custody and support. For example, co-parents in a domestic violence case can agree to conduct future parenting time exchanges at their local police department or may agree to communicate about their shared child via a co-parenting app, such as Our Family Wizard or AppClose.

Though civil restraints can bring a domestic violence matter to resolution without the need for a trial, it is important to note that there are important distinctions between a civil restraints order and a final restraining order. 


Most notably, if a Defendant violates a final restraining order (FRO), it is considered a standalone crime in the State of New Jersey. In contrast, if a Defendant violates a civil restraints agreement, it is not considered a separate criminal act. 


However, the violation itself may be a domestic violence crime and may subject the Defendant to criminal penalties. For instance, if a Defendant violates a civil restraints agreement by trespassing on the Plaintiff’s property, the Defendant may still be charged with and prosecuted for criminal trespass.


Moreover, while an FRO is enforceable as a Court Order with criminal consequences for violating its provisions, civil restraints are enforceable as an agreement between the parties. This means that if one party violates a civil restraints agreement, the aggrieved party must bring them to Court for contempt or enforcement proceedings. Meanwhile, violating an FRO can result in the Defendant’s arrest and enforcement through criminal prosecution.

What Is The Difference Between Civil Restraints and A Final Restraining Order?

What Is The Difference Between Civil Restraints and A Final Restraining Order?

What Are The Advantages of Civil Restraints?

The primary advantage of civil restraints is that the parties control the outcome of their case. At an FRO trial, the Court imposes an outcome and issues an Order which may be satisfactory to one party, neither party, or both parties. While civil restraints can allow the parties to “control their destiny,” trial leaves the outcome in the hands of a Family Court judge. 


In addition, a civil restraints agreement may contain more detail and specificity than a Final Restraining Order. Since the parties and their attorneys are crafting its terms, they can be as thorough as they would like in setting the terms of the agreement. On the other hand, because restraining orders are written by judges, they may be written in broader language that is less catered to the parties’ unique situation.

Domestic violence proceedings are separate from any criminal proceedings pending against the Defendant. This means that if criminal charges were filed against the Defendant, dismissing the TRO will not dismiss those criminal charges. 


Any criminal matters are between the Defendant and the State of New Jersey (represented by the prosecutor’s office). The Plaintiff or victim in a domestic violence case can ask the prosecutor’s office to dismiss criminal charges in addition to asking for the dismissal of a TRO. However, while the victim’s stated wishes may be persuasive, the prosecutor’s office does not have to dismiss criminal charges simply because the victim does not want to proceed.  


Contact A Restraining Order Lawyer Near You Today


If you or a loved one are in the midst of restraining order proceedings, contact the restraining order attorneys at Ormond Law today. 

With our background in both criminal and family law, we can offer you the invaluable legal advice you need to understand your options and to craft a path forward. In our free consultations and strategy sessions, we walk you through your case step-by-step and help craft a tailored solution designed to meet your goals. Contact us today to get the legal advocacy you need to proceed confidently in your restraining order case.

If I Dismiss the TRO, Will That Dismiss Any Criminal Charges Against the Defendant?

Contact A Restraining Order Lawyer Near You Today
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