Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

In the published opinion in the matter of T.M. v. R.M.W., FV-15-0506-18, the Family Court in Ocean County addressed a domestic violence case that included some interesting facts and issues offile000799318829-300x200 first impression.

In 2017, the plaintiff filed a domestic violence complaint against the defendant based on allegations of harassment and simple assault.  On her request for a restraining order she indicated that she and the defendant had a sexual relationship over the course of eight years.  The course of their relationship was limited to sporadic, casual encounters of consensual rough sex.  The parties never held themselves out as boyfriend or girlfriend, never developed an interpersonal relationship, never had expectations as to the future of their relationship or the permanence of their relationship. On the night in question, she invited the defendant over and while they were having sex, he laughed at her, told her he hated her, and punched her in the face.  She stated that she agreed to have consensual rough sex, and that this included slapping, choking and hair pulling, but that she did not consent to being punched in the face with a closed fist.  She repeatedly brought up to defendant that he had punched, her but she said he “brushed it off”.  She admitted the parties had never verbalized what their limits were.  She testified that she feared his impulsivity, that she feared he would show up again to the store where she worked, and that she wanted “other women” protected from him.  The defendant seemed to admit to their encounter, stating that she had messaged him at his job in a bar to have sex with her. They had sex, and he admitted to hitting her with a closed fist on the jaw, but stated that it was a playful and not designed to hurt her.  When she asked him about it afterward, he told her that he had meant it playfully and would not do it again.  Defendant denied that a restraining order was necessary as he had never come to the plaintiff’s home uninvited.  He added that after their last sexual encounter, the plaintiff sent a text message to his girlfriend to tell her that he had cheated on her, which led him to go to the store where she worked to talk to her about that.  He had only ever been there before to make an actual purchase. She told him to leave and he never returned there.  The court found that the defendant, who did not minimize his actions, more credible than the plaintiff, who was inconsistent in testifying about whether she had been punched more than once, and whether there was a history of domestic violence.

The court first assessed whether the plaintiff could be considered a “victim” under the Domestic Violence Act given that the parties did not really have a “dating” relationship, as defined by Andrews v. Rutherford, 363 N.J. Super. 252, 260 (Ch.Div. 2003). The judge noted that the statute includes as a victim “any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship”, but the statute does not define “dating relationship”.  Moreover,  the statute states that its purpose is “to assure the victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse the law can provide.” N.J.S.A. 2C:25-18.  The court concluded that this secret, sexual relationship was sufficient to be considered a “dating” relationship.  The  judge felt the purpose of the domestic violence statute would be thwarted when it protected plaintiffs in non-sexual dating relationships if it did not also apply to plaintiffs who engaged in relationships that were only sexual with the defendant.  The judge did not base his decision on moral judgments on plaintiff’s decisions.

Mass shootings in schools, colleges, movie theaters, churches, concerts and other public spaces have been in the news regularly, leading to disputes over gun control and issues involving4168c94f1d5117faacc4fa82b69915a3-300x200

the Second Amendment also in the news, while politicians grapple with how to respond.   It is interesting that after a mass shooting, when those who knew the shooter are interviewed, they commonly indicate that there was no way to predict that the shooter would engage in such violence.   A large portion of mass shooters, however, appear to have in their past abused and/or committed acts of violence towards women in their lives. Continue reading ›

The tragic and senseless massacre that unfolded this past Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida has left a grieving Nation searching for answers. Much of the debate focuses on the Second Amendment toconstitution-998x660-300x198 the United States Constitution which states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” History has shown that the strong language of the Second Amendment does not leave it immune from lawmakers enacting safeguards in an attempt to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.  Continue reading ›

Most people would be shocked to find out that an individual who obtains a final restraining order against their spouse could be ordered to pay alimony to support his/her abuser. The Prevention offile000388004075-3-200x300 Domestic Violence Act (“Act”) specifically states that victims of domestic violence are entitled to financial support from their abusers. However, the Act is silent on whether a victim of domestic violence who is also the income producing spouse has to support the abuser. Continue reading ›

On January 17, 2018, the New Jersey Appellate Division decided the case of G.M. v. C.V. (A4820-15). The case involved the appeal of a May 6, 2016 order that denied the defendant’s request to vacate a final restraining order (FRO) entered in 2004. The reason for the denial that Trial Court gave was that the defendant’s motion did not include the transcript of the underlying 2004 FRO hearing. Continue reading ›

In the case of M.C. v. G.T., A-4781-15, decided and approved for publication by the Appellate Division on January 2, 2018, the Appellate Division addressed essentially the equitable authority of afile000799318829-2-300x200 family court judge to enter a restraining order without there being a finding of domestic violence. Continue reading ›

On November 8, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued the unpublished opinion in the domestic violence case of J.R. v. C.R. (A-4936-15) affirming the issuance of a final restraining order (FRO) entered against J.R. who was in a dating relationship with C.R. Here, C.R. obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the grounds of harassment and assault based upon an alleged predicate act of domestic violence that occurred on February 29, 2016.  The parties testified that although they had broken off their relationship several times, they were involved in a long-term dating relationship. Continue reading ›

In my last blog post I noted that effective September 1, 2017 a number of Court Rules directly impacting upon Family Part practice had been approved by our Supreme Court. I summarized and discussed a number of those Amendments. In this blog post , I will summarize and discuss two of the most significant and substantive new Rules which were adopted in this current cycle. Continue reading ›

It is not unusual to question whether a litigant seeking a final domestic violence restraining order is permitted to testify about a prior domestic violence restraining order that was dismissed whenfile000388004075-1-200x300 outlining a couple’s prior history of domestic violence for a court.    In M.D. v. P.D.(A-2054-15T, October 13, 2017), an  unpublished opinion decided this week, the Appellate Division upheld the trial court’s decision to allow the plaintiff to testify about the acts of domestic violence that were in a previous domestic violence complaint that had been voluntarily dismissed when the parties entered into a consent order agreeing to impose civil restraints against the defendant. Continue reading ›

e3bc10d77963468f2705f7119c049b73-300x199On September 20, 2017 the New Jersey Appellate Division approved a domestic violence case for publication the matter of L.C. v. M.A.J. (A4933-15T2), in which the Appellate Division addressed the use of pre-trial in limine motions, which are pretrial motions commonly used to request the court to make legal determinations about evidence before trial, to seek an eve of trial dismissal of a litigant’s pleadings. Continue reading ›