Interim Financial Relief and TROs: What You Need to Know
More than likely, you already know that the acronym TRO stands for a temporary restraining order. Upon application by a domestic violence victim, a family court or municipal court judge may issue a TRO. The premise is preliminary and among other things, seeks to limit contact between the parties. Meanwhile, there is the issue of interim financial relief. After all, the victim does need to be able to buy food and keep the lights on.
Once a temporary restraining order has been executed, the matter is scheduled for a hearing regarding a final restraining order (“FRO”). This is a more intensive proceeding and has a number of requirements. Obviously, both a temporary and final restraining order are serious matters. The hearing for the final restraining order should occur within ten days after the issuance of the TRO.
Understandably, it is the domestic violence victim who applies for the temporary restraining order. Many times, the defendant may not even be notified of the application. In fact, the first notice may not occur until service of the actual TRO. Among the issue of restraining contact, are concerns about the prohibition of weapon possession. But, what about emergent monetary support.
No doubt ten days may seem like a long time to wait for money. Unfortunately, the problem is that financial concerns can be extended even further. So, what does the law say about child support and spousal support when only a TRO is in place?
Restraining Orders and Financial Relief
In ideal situations, decisions regarding final restraining orders are made within ten days. Both parties appear at the hearing, and the judge makes a decision. The FRO often will contain language regarding alimony and child support.
Here’s the problem. The judge may decide to extend the temporary restraining order and set the hearing for the final restraining order at a later date. Regrettably, it could be a whole month until the court decides whether to issue an FRO. It’s a situation that happens more often than not.
Conflicts Regarding Domestic Violence and Interim Relief
Here’s an interesting consideration. As you may or may not know, temporary restraining orders are most often written on printed forms. It is literally a matter of filling in the blanks. There are a number of requisite boxes subject to completion. Part II of the preprinted form deals specifically with relief.
The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice details specific guidelines when it comes to completion of the temporary restraining order application. Under the section entitled Part II Relief, police officers are directed to provide victims with the relief they may request from the court. They include:
- A breakdown of parenting time, also known as visitation
- Emergent support allowances
- Interim possession of personal property
- Compensatory damages to the plaintiff
- Punitive damages to the plaintiff
To illustrate the specifics, we are providing you with a copy of the section of the TRO preprinted form that deals with relief.
At the very least, the form seems to assure the victim of some financial stability until the final restraining order is executed. However, there’s one problem. Not every court seems to agree that there is a statutory law that allows monetary relief.
What do we mean? The law regarding temporary restraining orders is found at NJSA 2C:25-28. NJSA 2C:25-28(j) breaks down the available emergency relief as follows:
Emergency relief may include forbidding the defendant from returning to the scene of the domestic violence, forbidding the defendant from possessing any firearm or other weapon enumerated in subsection r. of N.J.S.2C:39-1, ordering the search for and seizure of any such weapon at any location where the judge has reasonable cause to believe the weapon is located and the seizure of any firearms purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun issued to the defendant and any other appropriate relief. Other appropriate relief may include but is not limited to an order directing the possession of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either party or a minor child residing in the household and providing that the animal shall not be disposed of prior to entry of a final order pursuant to section 13 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-29).
The judge shall state with specificity the reasons for and scope of any search and seizure authorized by the order. The provisions of this subsection prohibiting a defendant from possessing a firearm or other weapon shall not apply to any law enforcement officer while actually on duty, or to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or member of the National Guard while actually on duty or traveling to or from an authorized place of duty.
As you can see, this represents a bit of a conundrum. This is the only section of the law that speaks about emergency relief. The statute says nothing about alimony or child support. In fact, it doesn’t mention monetary concerns at all. There’s no doubt this is a huge concern to the victim who needs money to survive.
Are you a victim of domestic violence? Your safety and worries about your loved ones are primary. At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we offer compassionate and experienced legal advice. There is no cost or obligation to meet with us. Contact us to see how we can help.