WILLIAM H. MONE reports on a recent decision from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.
A New Jersey woman filed an application for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) for harassment and a Complaint for Divorce against her husband in March 2015. Shortly thereafter, the woman agreed to dismiss the TRO, and the parties entered into civil restraints before proceeding with the divorce action.
Several months later, in October of 2015, the woman filed another TRO against her husband for harassment, claiming that he appeared at a restaurant where she was dining and berated and harassed her in the presence of the parties’ child and other patrons. Among other things, the woman claimed her husband disparaged her ethnicity and threatened to expose her alleged affair with her employer.
After a two day trial, the Superior Court granted the woman’s application for a Final Restraining Order (FRO) against her husband. The Court found that the husband had committed the predicate domestic violence act of harassment in both March 2015 and October 2015 and that an FRO was necessary to protect the woman from future acts of harassment by her husband. The woman’s husband appealed the finding, arguing that the Court should not have considered the March 2015 incident because it was dismissed by the woman and that he did not intend to harass the woman within the meaning of the criminal harassment statute.
The Appellate Division affirmed the Superior Court’s entry of the FRO. In doing so, the Appellate Division noted that while the March 2015 TRO was dismissed in favor of civil restraints, it was not the functional equivalent of an adjudication finding that the husband did not commit an act of domestic violence. Specifically, the Appellate Division held that the parties’ choice to enter into civil restraints only required the trial court to find whether the parties should do so voluntarily.
The Appellate Division also found that the trial record thoroughly supported the trial judge’s finding that the husband’s actions were part of a pattern, in which his conduct had the express purpose to annoy and alarm his wife, and that the FRO was necessary to protect the wife from further acts of harassment and domestic violence by her husband.
Please contact William H. Mone if you have any questions or need assistance in connection with this subject.