Bill Summary

Under Assembly Bill A3137/ Senate Bill S2235, known as Monica’s Law, the Administrative Offices of the Court shall establish a pilot program in two New Jersey counties, which shall impose a visitation risk assessment requirement prior to establishing parenting time for those who have been issued a domestic violence final restraining order.  Risk assessments shall be ordered in all cases where a final domestic violence restraining order has been issued, where the person who committed the acts of domestic violence and the victim have a child in common, and certain enumerated risk factors are present (see section 5 of the bill).

A “risk assessment” is an assessment of the likelihood that the person against whom the final restraining order is issued will commit an act of violence against the victim or against the child the perpetrator of domestic violence and the victim have in common.  The risk assessment will also be used to ascertain the child’s emotional well-being while in the care of the person who committed the acts of domestic violence. 

Risk assessments shall be performed by a qualified licensed professional or someone with experience in forensic interviewing who has been appointed by the court (see section 7 of the bill).  All risk assessors are required to receive specialized domestic violence training as defined in the bill (see sections 9 &10 of the bill).  Risk Assessors are required to interview both parties involved in the domestic violence incident. 

The bill requires that a domestic violence complainant shall, at the time of the filing of the complaint, complete a questionnaire.  The purpose of the questionnaire is to establish whether a mandatory risk assessment shall be ordered.  The questionnaire shall include information as to whether the person against whom the domestic violence complaint is filed has a child or children in common with the victim; whether the person has ever used or threatened to use a weapon or has made other threats against the victim or any child or committed other acts enumerated in the bill. The completed questionnaire will be attached to the domestic violence complaint and shall be considered by the court hearing the domestic violence matter.

A risk assessment shall be ordered by the court in cases set forth in section 5 of the bill.  Some of the acts enumerated in the legislation which would result in a mandatory risk assessment when a domestic violence restraining order has been issued are:

  1. there has been a violation of a final domestic violence restraining order;
  2. the person against whom the domestic violence complaint is filed has ever previously harmed or threatened to cause physical or emotional harm or neglect to a child.  

The bill sets forth 12 hours of basic domestic violence training (see section 9 of the bill); 16 hours of advanced domestic violence training (see section 10 of the bill); and annual update training (see section 11 of the bill).  Qualified risk assessors are trained by “eligible providers.”  “Eligible providers” are educational institutions, professional associations, professional continuing education groups, a court sanctioned organization, and other public or private groups with an expertise in domestic violence and child abuse issues (see section 12 of the bill).  The bill requires monitors to oversee and certify eligible providers. 

Defendants shall be responsible to pay for all ordered risk assessments unless the court waives the costs due to financial hardship.

If you are interested in reading the complete text of the bill please visit  Type A3137 in the bill number field or Monica’s Law in the key word field. 


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