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New Laws Expand Protections for New Jersey Domestic Violence Victims

Just before leaving office, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed two domestic violence bills into law. These measures expand protections for victims of domestic violence in New Jersey.

Legal protections are an important part of a comprehensive safety plan for those who feel unsafe in their family or romantic relationships. With support from social service agencies, legally-binding court orders and assistance from law enforcement agents, victims can protect themselves and their children from future violence. Somerset County domestic violence attorneys help victims access these services and develop a comprehensive safety plan to best protect them from abuse.

The Protections Offered by the New Laws

The first state law offers housing assistance in situations where domestic violence endangers the health or safety of family members. The funds will help protect those from imminent homelessness or unsafe temporary housing. This assistance is only available to recipients of services through the Work First New Jersey program. Those receiving supplemental security income may also be able to access housing assistance in certain emergent situations. Individuals or families can receive rental assistance for up to 12 months (with a six-month extension being available in certain circumstances). Conservative lawmakers also inserted language into the bill requiring recipients of housing assistance to take all reasonable steps to end dependency on the service. State commissioners may also require other actions as a condition of receiving the assistance.

The second law calls upon employers to assist workers who are domestic violence victims. Under this provision, the state Civil Service Commission will develop a uniform policy by which public employers can support employees who report domestic violence to them. Employers would draft written policy encouraging employee victims to report the violence to the employer. They would also maintain lists of support services, law enforcement agencies and medical, legal, and counseling services for employee assistance. Companies would also be required to enact confidentiality policies and maintain domestic violence records separately from the worker’s other employee records. This law recognizes employers can be a victim’s first-line of defense, helping them obtain essential safety and support services.

Our family law attorneys understand a domestic violence victim must have a comprehensive safety plan tailored to the specific needs of the situation. This should include: A safe place to stay; methods of contacting law enforcement in the event the abuser returns; funds to ensure immediate housing, groceries, utilities, and other necessaries of life; protection at the school of any minor children; support from family members or friends who can shelter the victim from the abuser when needed; and any other protections which are required by the circumstances. A restraining order is often key to these safety plans.

A Somerset County domestic violence attorney can help victims access help through the legal system. With tools for legal protection and support from social services agencies, domestic violence victims can begin to build new lives for themselves and their children.

If you have questions about the legal protections available to domestic violence victims and their children, contact the Somerset County domestic violence attorneys at Rozin-Golinder Law LLC by calling (732) 810-0034.

Additional Resources: Domestic violence victims to get housing, workplace support in new laws, by Nicole Leonard, The Press of Atlantic City, January 8, 2018.

More Blog Entries: Can Your Online Activity Lead to a Restraining Order?, January 27, 2017, New Jersey Family Law Attorney Blog

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