Divorce FAQ's

The Enforcement of Out-of-State Restraining Orders

1. Are out of state restraining orders enforceable in New Jersey?

Domestic violence crosses state boundaries. Victims may leave the states where they had resided and where they had obtained restraining orders to protect themselves against further attacks by their abusers. Under the federal Violence Against Women Act, a victim who has a restraining order from her home state and flees to another state to seek safety from further abuse may seek enforcement of the existing restraining order in the new state. The new state must provide full faith and credit to any existing restraining order or order of protection.

Therefore, if you have a valid restraining order that satisfies federal standards, then it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid restraining orders granted in the United States must receive “full faith and credit” in all states within the United States. In summary, each state must enforce out-of-state restraining orders in the same way that it enforces its own orders. A domestic violence restraining order should provide a victim with protection wherever she is located.

2. What does the Federal Law provide with regard to the enforcement of out of state restraining orders?

The federal law provides that a restraining order of one state is to be accorded full faith and credit by the court of another state, and the order is to be enforced as if it were the order of the enforcing state. A restraining order is to be accorded full faith and credit if; a) the court had jurisdiction over the parties and the matter under the law of such state; and b) reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard was given to the person against whom the order was sought sufficient to protect that person’s right of due process.

3. Is a person required to register an-out-of-court restraining order in his new home state?

No registration of any out of state restraining order is required. The federal law does not require the victim to register the out-of-state restraining order in the state where she currently resides in order to have the protections of that restraining order. If registration were required, then a victim could be left unprotected and vulnerable from the time she enters a new state, until the time she became aware of and satisfied the registration requirements.

4. What steps should I take to have an out-of-state restraining order enforced in New Jersey?

If you have a restraining order from another state and if you now live in New Jersey or are moving to New Jersey, then you have two choices regarding your existing restraining order. First, you can do nothing with your out of state restraining order. New Jersey Courts and law enforcement are instructed to enforce any order that appears to be valid. Second, you can have your out-of-state order recognized by New Jersey Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, as a valid order or you may choose to obtain a New Jersey restraining order. You will have to file an application with the court to register your out-of-state restraining order. This process will require that you send notice of any application and hearing to the defendant. In most cases the defendant will default and not show up at any New Jersey hearing.

Meanwhile, if you choose not to file any type of application to register the order, then your legal rights will still be vigorously protected. The Judiciary’s Family Case Tracking System (FACTS) has the capacity to record out-of-state domestic violence restraining orders, which provides further protection to victims who have relocated to New Jersey.

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