Many people are surprised to learn that you cannot merely obtain a Temporary or Final Restraining Order in New Jersey against just anyone. For example, if your neighbor is sending you inappropriate text messages, or your co-worker assaulted you, there is no remedy for you in New Jersey Family Court under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA). You may have the ability to pursue these types of issues criminally, but you will not be able to get a Temporary or Final Restraining Order against your neighbor or co-worker if your relationships with those individuals do not fall into the category protected by the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.
One of those categories is that the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act applies to any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a “dating relationship.” At first blush it may seem obvious whether someone is in a dating relationship, but that is not always true. As the New Jersey Appellate Division has said, dating relationships are defined differently by members of different socioeconomic groups and from one generation to the next.
What Is a Dating Relationship?
In a relatively recent Appellate Division decision from Camden County, the question was whether parties who never had a traditional in person date but had exchanged nearly 1,300 highly personal text messages met the definition of a “dating relationship”. If the Court found that the parties had a dating relationship, then the plaintiff/victim qualified for relief under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, otherwise, she did not.
Is the contact between these parties, nearly all via text message, enough for a “dating relationship”? In this case, yes. The Court noted that the parties never visited each other’s homes, never met each other’s friends or family, never even kissed or held hands, much less engaged in a sexual relationship, and never experienced an in-person date. Despite this, the Court held that the parties had “exceedingly intimate” communications that underscored their relationship and that the nature and amount of those communications, their “dating activities”, transformed their relationship into a “dating relationship”.
So, in our increasingly technology-driven world, the definition of a “dating relationship” per Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is going to continue to evolve.
Contact Rigden Law and Speak With an Attorney
Whether you have been accused of domestic violence, or are the victim of domestic violence, Alexandra Rigden has substantial experience representing clients in domestic violence proceedings.