Monica's Law against Domestic Violence
New Jersey’s Assembly Bill A3137, known as Monica’s Law, establishes a visitation risk assessment pilot program for domestic violence cases. The purpose of Monica’s Law is to use a risk assessment as a tool to determine whether a person against whom a domestic violence final restraining order is issued will commit an act of violence against the victim or the child the victim and actor have in common. The risk assessment will also be used to ascertain the child’s emotional well-being while in the care of the perpetrator of the domestic violence.The incidence of domestic violence has a far reaching and lasting impact affecting not only the victims of the violence but the children in the household who are exposed, directly or indirectly, to family violence as well. Protecting the victim’s health, safety, and welfare is in the best interest of the children of the victim of domestic violence. Acts of violence committed against a child who is the offspring of a victim of domestic violence is, like domestic violence acts, an escalating problem in the New Jersey and across the nation. These children are at risk of serious injury or death. Preventing retaliatory violence against the child of a domestic violence victim is essential for protecting and preserving the life of these young victims. Monica’s Law will protect adults and children who are victims of domestic violence. The key elements of Monica’s Law are:
v If a domestic violence restraining order has been issued; and the actor and the victim have a child in common; and certain enumerated risk factors are present the court will be required to order a risk assessment. A risk assessment will be administered prior to establishing parenting time for the perpetrator of the domestic violence.
v A qualified licensed professional or someone with experience in forensic interviewing who has been appointed by the court shall perform risk assessments. All risk assessors are required to receive specialized domestic violence training as defined in the bill.
v Qualified risk assessors are trained by “eligible providers,” which are defined in the bill.
v The bill requires monitors to oversee and certify eligible providers.
v Defendants shall be responsible to pay for all ordered risk assessments unless the court waives the costs due to financial hardship.