Domestic Violence and Marital Torts
Victims of Domestic Violence in New Jersey
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 ("the Act") is intended to assure the victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse the law can provide. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 et seq. A victim of domestic violence is a person protected by the Act and includes any person who is: (1) 18 years of age or older; (2) an emancipated minor who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other person who is a present or former household member; or (3) regardless of age, subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a child in common or with whom the victim has had a dating relationship. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 et seq.
Domestic violence is defined in the Act as the occurrence of one or more of the following criminal offenses upon a person protected by the Act: homicide, terroristic threats, criminal restrain, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, burglary, harassment, assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, lewdness, criminal mischief, criminal trespass or stalking.
There are various remedies available to a victim of domestic violence, including but not limited to the following: obtaining exclusive possession of the residence; obtaining temporary custody of the children; obtaining financial support.
The domestic violence Act is often an abused piece of legislation in that litigants sometimes use the Act as a sword to remove a party from the home instead of a shield to protect a party from abuse. This results in the prosecution and defense of a case often being contested and a hearing needed.
A spouse may potentially seek monetary/compensatory/punitive financial damages from another spouse as a result of a significant physical, emotional or psychological injury caused by that spouse. An actionable marital tort may be done intentionally, negligently or recklessly. A spouse may sue his/her spouse for a variety of marital torts, including but not limited to assault and battery, battered woman syndrome, intentional infliction of emotion distress, or transmission of a sexually transmittable disease.