New Jersey May Expand Domestic Violence Protection to Adoptive Parents

Munoz Proposes Domestic Violence Legislation

domestic-violence (large)We take extra effort not only to keep our clients informed of changes in the law but also prospective changes working their way through the court of public opinion and the halls of power.

Along those lines, a significant change may soon occur in the realm of New Jersey domestic violence. Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz of Union County, New Jersey has proposed new legislation that achieved Assembly Judiciary Committee on Thursday which would, according to her press release, afford adoptive parents “protection as domestic violence victims if the perpetrator is a person who gave up parental rights to the adopted child.”

A quick refresher is necessary to understand the importance of this change. In order to receive a restraining order pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) of 1991, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 et seq. (click here to review it), the parties must demonstrate that one of an enumerate set of domestic relationships exists between the parties before the Family Court will even consider whether an acutal incident or incidents of domestic violence took place:

  1. Married
  2. Married but presently Separated
  3. Divorced
  4. Cohabitating (i.e. “living together”) in the same household
  5. Dating
  6. Parents of a mutual child or children

Point #6 currently doesn’t specify, for purposes of the Act, whether an incident involving an adoptive “parent” and a former legal “parent” would qualify. Muñoz’s legislation, Bill A-781, amends the definition of “victim of domestic violence” in the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991” so that it would include any parent of an adopted child who is victimized by another person whose parental rights for the child were previously terminated.

“Domestic violence is a devastating social problem that affects all populations, adopted children included who come from all types of backgrounds and homes, including those where abuse and neglect are rampant,” said Asw. Muñoz, who also represents portions of Morris and Somerset counties. “When people adopt children from such homes, they run a great risk of being the targets of acts of domestic violence themselves from those who relinquished their parental rights. Surprisingly, the law offers them little protection.”

Domestic violence matters are inherently complex and the stakes are high… for you and your family.  Remember: you don’t have to go through this alone! If you or a loved one have questions regarding domestic violence, please contact the New Jersey family law attorneys at DeMichele & DeMichele.  Your confidential, initial consultation is only a click or call away.  Call now to speak to one of our matrimonial attorneys at (856) 546-1350 or click here to contact us online.