If you or a family member is suffering in an abusive relationship with someone close to you, it’s important to understand the meaning of the word “domestic” in the common legal phrase, “domestic violence.”
In the state of New Jersey, The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act protects people who are 18 years of age or older, or those who have become emancipated under the age of 18 as a result of marriage, military service, pregnancy, parenting, or emancipated by court order for some other reason.
In other words, domestic violence does not cover children who are abused. They are covered under separate laws. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is designed to protect adults.
And the word “domestic,” for the purposes of this law, refers to someone who is or has been close to you, such as a current spouse or a former spouse, or a current or former member of your household.
It covers someone with whom you have children, or anticipate having children. A pregnant person of any age is covered under the law from domestic violence. Parents, whether or not they have ever lived together, been married, are married, or are legally separated or divorced are covered under this law.
However, it is not necessary to have children with another person to qualify under The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act in New Jersey. Other relationships also qualify, such as gay and lesbian relationships, dating relationships, family members, caretakers, roommates or any other adult who is or was living in the same home with you.
The simplest ways to understand the two main categories of relationships covered under the law are: 1) anyone with whom you have or anticipate having children, and 2) anyone with whom you live or have ever lived in the same home.
There are circumstances unique to each case and situations that may become important in your own case, and that is why a speaking to a family lawyer is the best way to determine your rights and obligations in any matter involving domestic violence in New Jersey.