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New Jersey Family Part Judge Rules That Elder Abuse Be Considered Domestic Violence


Hand Pointing to BoardAn order recently issued by Judge Lawrence Jones of the Ocean County Superior Court Family Part recognized the right of elder abuse victims to seek a restraining order against their alleged abusers under New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Act.

Judge Jones’ expanded application of the Domestic Violence Act arose from a case titled J.C. v. B.S., involving a 73-year old woman and her live-in adult son. The mother had long been in failing health, and had experienced multiple back operations, two mini-strokes, and a hip replacement, and had trouble walking as a result. The mother and son lived with a friend and, according to the court, the son had no ownership stake in the house. According to the mother, her son would get drunk and call her vulgar and offensive names, poke her with his finger, and once nearly pushed her over. Eventually, the woman called the police and filed for a restraining order against her son. When the mother and son appeared before the judge, the son alleged that his injury-laden mother was the responsible party, regularly chasing him around their home, but he was unable to explain to the judge how she could do so given her physical condition. The judge sided with the beleaguered mother and issued a final restraining order under the Domestic Violence Act barring the son from the house they shared and permitting him to retrieve his possessions only under a police officer’s supervision.

While the Domestic Violence Act does not specifically include elder abuse as a category, the Judge ruled that it did not need to be included by name to be covered under the Act’s protections and that there was a great interest in protecting the elderly from harassment. The judge noted that “elder abuse has apparently not been specifically addressed in prior reported New Jersey case law interpreting the Domestic Violence Act, [but] the issue is clearly of critical social importance.” The judge noted, “[S]ome elderly citizens of advanced age and compromised health may be particularly vulnerable to abuse of a physical or emotional nature, even in their own homes and by their own family members.”

If you or someone you know is the victim of abuse, emotional or physical, don’t wait; get immediate help by calling the police to request a temporary restraining order. You can also go to the domestic violence office at your county courthouse to apply for a temporary restraining order. Ten days after you receive your temporary restraining order you will go back to court for a final hearing where the judge will determine whether there was domestic violence and grant you a permanent restraining order to keep the abuser away from you permanently.

The knowledgeable attorneys at the Englewood firm of Herbert & Weiss have over 20 years of experience and success winning restraining orders for the victims of domestic violence. Call the family law and domestic violence attorneys at Herbert & Weiss for a consultation at (201) 500-2151.

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