Articles Posted in Evidence

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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.

The Plaintiff in this case filed a domestic violence complaint in May, 2016 in which she alleged that the defendant was harassing her by sending communications to her and her employer; the complaint further alleged a history of past domestic violence that included physical abuse and controlling conduct.   At the final hearing, Defendant filed a motion in limine to dismiss that he claimed was based on  Rule 4:6-2(e) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.   His actual pleadings, did not address whether Plaintiff met the elements for a cause of action but asserted that his communications related to parenting issues, not harassment.   The court granted the motion to dismiss the temporary domestic violence restraining order and heard no testimony.

The Appellate Division reversed.  The Appellate Division condemned the use of in limine motions that are dispositive of or seek to terminate an action on the eve of trial.  Instead, an in limine motion at such a late date should only address preliminary or evidentiary issues, and even then such in limine motions are disfavored and should be heard sparingly.  Defendant’s motion did not ask the court to resolve a preliminary or evidence issue, but a sudden and summary dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint, which the Appellate Division found improper, especially in a domestic violence matter where an alleged victim’s safety was at issue.   The Appellate Division stated that in rare cases could a domestic violence case be dismissed before trial, and even then, due process required adequate notice to the plaintiff and an opportunity to respond and file his/her own papers, which Plaintiff in this case did not have an opportunity to do with so little notice.   If Defendant felt that he had grounds for dismissal, he should have instead requested an involuntary dismissal at the close of the plaintiff’s case or at the close of all the evidence.

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In the published opinion in the matter of Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. T.U.B. & J.E.C., (A-2565-15T2) the trial court terminated the Defendant’s parental rights in a Title 30 DSC2330-300x200guardianship case based upon the admission of hearsay statements by children about corroborated allegations of abuse or neglect pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.46(a)(4). The hearsay statements made by the children involved allegations of sexual abuse that were later in part recanted by one of the non-testifying child declarants. Continue reading

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On March 14, 2017, the Appellate Division issued a published opinion in the matter of R.G. v. R.G. (A-0945-15T3)  in which the Appellate Division addressed the applicability of New Jersey’s file0001931487912-290x300Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to protect a man seeking a domestic violence retraining order against his brother. Continue reading

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I recently attended a seminar where the topic concerned the obtaining, analysis and use of medical records. While the main focus was how medical records were dealt with in civil litigation matters such as medical malpractice and personal injury cases, it was clear that a number of the issues discussed could apply to Family Court matters as well. A spouse may allege that they are unable to work, or may be limited in what type of work they can do, as a result of some sort of medical or psychological condition or disability, thereby impacting a claim for spousal and/or child support. A spouse may allege that they suffered physical and/or emotional injury as a result of an act or course of abuse by the other spouse leading to a claim for damages in an action for domestic tort. Continue reading

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Domestic-violenceThe time period in the lead up to and immediately after a couple separates is more likely than not rife with conflict. Unfortunately, the conflicts, whether verbal and/or physical, can rise to the level of abuse that is tantamount to domestic violence. Recently, a New Jersey family court in Ocean County issued an unpublished opinion is the case of AS-v-VS, FM-15-923-17, which is illustrative about how a family court judge handles a domestic violence complaint, especially in proximity to the filing of another family court matter. Continue reading

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It is well cited the significant extent that domestic violence is in this State and in this country.  It has alsoOfficer Holding Cell Phone been in the news over the course of the last year or more the danger that police officers and the need for them to protect themselves on the job.  How do we balance the need for officer protection, and the public interest in domestic violence victims, with citizens’ Constitutional rights? Continue reading

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When you mention Private Investigators in the context of a matrimonial dispute, most people think of what is portrayed in movies or in television of a gumshoe Detective tailing a car or hiding in the bushes, trying to get the goods on a suspected cheating spouse. While hiring a private investigator to determine whether a spouse may be engaged in an adulterous relationship remains a common reason to do so, there are a multitude of other reasons why the use of a private investigator can be an important tool for the client as well as the attorney in the preparation of a matrimonial case. This blog post will discuPrivate Investigatorss some of these circumstances, as well as some practical and legal considerations affecting the use of private investigators. Continue reading

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The news agency CNN Money recently published an article entitled “Panama Papers: How the rich try to hide assets from their exes.”  (http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/07/news/panama-papers-divorce/) T9-08-1he “Panama Papers” refer to hacked files from an international law firm based in Panama called Mossack Fonseca.  Those hacked files were analyzed by the press and later published in a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The report’s findings have already lead to the resignation of the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, after it was revealed that he owned an offshore company with his wife but he had not declared it when he entered Parliament.   Continue reading

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file000388004075In a prior post, I took a look at the process necessary to seek the dissolution or modification of a Final Restraining Order (FRO), specifically taking into consideration the Carfagno factors that have since been adopted by the Appellate Division as a non-exhaustive list of factors for the Court to consider when one of these applications is made.  In a recent, albeit unpublished, decision, the Appellate Division revisits this issue and takes a closer look at what constitutes a prima facie case of good cause and changed circumstances warranting a plenary hearing on this issue.  That case, B.R. v. J.A., originated in Hudson County and has been reversed and remanded for a plenary hearing by the Appellate Division, without any discussion on the merits of the defendant’s application. Continue reading

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For those of you that have attended Mr. Yudes’ annual ICLE seminar: Family Law Update and/or those of you that have paid close attention to newly published trial court decisions over the past three (3) years will not be surprised to find that the Honorable Lawrence R. Jones, J.S.C., a Superior Court Judge in Ocean County, has issued many trial court level decisions that have become published.  Beginning with Benjamin v. Benjamin, which was decided in October 2012 and was approved for publication in February 2013, Judge Jones has issued a total of nine (9) decisions published decisions. Continue reading