Articles Posted in Other Family Actions

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This past week the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished opinion in the case of V.J.C vs. M.V. (docket no. A-4587-15T3).  In this case the defendant appealed from a final d744f80a269bdfa75c34d7830ed52c13-300x200restraining order (FRO) entered by the trial court in favor of plaintiff pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. The defendant claimed that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his request for a short adjournment of the April 14, 2016 hearing until his attorney could arrive at the courthouse. The series of events that led to the defendant being in court that day are as follows.  The plaintiff filed a domestic violence complaint against the defendant on March 15, 2016 in which she accused him of choking her  during a party at the apartment they shared.  A temporary restraining order (TRO) was entered and a hearing was scheduled for March 24, 2017 pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(a) which states that a final hearing on a party’s request for a FRO should be held within ten days after the plaintiff files a complaint.

The next day, the defendant appeared in court without counsel present, and he requested an appeal of the TRO based upon the grounds that he was unable to retrieve his personal belongings from the residence. In response to the defendant’s request, the trial court ordered that the hearing be scheduled for the following day: March 17, 2017. Keep in mind that the defendant had only been served with the TRO on the previous day. Likely in light of the aforementioned facts, the defendant then told the court that he needed more time to hire an attorney.   The plaintiff first requested an adjournment “because of a medical issue” and the court granted that request, moving the hearing to March 31 and then rescheduling it again to April 7, 2016 because of the court’s schedule.  Defendant’s counsel then requested an adjournment again “because of a prior court commitment” and the judge granted that request as well, scheduling the hearing for April 14, 2016. Just two days prior to the trial date, on April 12, 2016, defendant’s attorney requested yet another adjournment because of other municipal court matters he had scheduled on this date.  In my experience, Superior Court judges are not always willing to adjourn matters on their own calendars for municipal court matters.  More importantly, this case had had a number of adjournments already, and the trial judge was mindful of the statutory requirement to hold a hearing within ten days of the filing of the domestic violence complaint.

The trial court judge denied counsel’s request for an adjournment but offered the consideration of a “ready hold” so that the matter would be heard at a specific time that day.  The defendant’s attorney appeared in municipal court the morning of the hearing but had to advise the trial court that the municipal matter was running late.   The trial judge advised the defendant that the case was going to proceed that day even if his attorney did not arrive.  Defendant was permitted the opportunity to call his attorney but could only reach the attorney’s office staff.   Defendant’s counsel never appeared.  He faxed a letter to the judge’s chambers advising that he was tied up in municipal court, and requested another adjournment of the final hearing.  He sent a second letter asking that the matter be held until he arrived shortly.   The court, however, conducted the hearing without Defendant’s attorney, and entered a final restraining order against the defendant.  The trial judge stated in his amplified decision that he did not receive the two letters from counsel until after the hearing was already completed.

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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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image1-232x300On Friday, billions of people around the world observed the Christian Holy Day of Good Friday. It marks the day that the Trial of Jesus of Nazareth occurred and when he was sentenced to death for failing to deny that he believed himself to be the Son of God. Christians believe that Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humanity (1 John 1:10). Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus rising from the dead, an event which is referred to as the Resurrection. Set in the springtime every year and often close to the Jewish Holy Day of Passover, Easter symbolizes a time of rebirth and renewal. Holy Thursday, which occurred yesterday, marks the event of the Last Supper of Jesus and his Apostles, during which the group were celebrating a Passover Seder when Jesus informed the group that he would be betrayed by his followers. Continue reading

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The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), 42 U.S.C. § 13701 et seq., is a United States federal law that was originally passed in 1994 and was reauthorized in 2013 in which the spouses and children and parents of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents may self-petition to obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the law that governs immigration in the United States. The VAWA provisions relating to immigration are codified in section 204(a) of the INA. Rules published in the Federal Register explain the eligibility requirements and procedures for filing a self-petition under the VAWA provisions. People who may apply include: (1) a spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; (2) a child of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; (3) a spouse of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who’s child has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty for the reason bANGEL-13-144x300eing that a parent files for self-petition based on abuse of the child but both parent and child benefit; and (4) parent of a U.S. citizen . It is important to note that, despite its title, the VAWA is applicable to both men and women although spouses of undocumented foreign nationals cannot self-petition. Continue reading

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On February 1, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division published its opinion in the case of New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. V.E., A-0586-15T4 — A.3d —- (2017). V.E.file000626018085-300x225 is the mother of R.S. now age nine.  V.E. appealed an administrative finding of the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency  (“DCPP) that “established” a finding of abuse or neglect without her first being given an evidentiary hearing. The Appellate Division reversed the decision of the trial court to not afford V.E. a plenary hearing “because an established finding is a finding of child abuse or neglect under N.J.S.A. 9:6–8.21(c)(4), subject to disclosure as permitted by N.J.S.A. 9:6–8.11a(b) and other statutes, due process considerations require a party against whom abuse or neglect is established be afforded plenary administrative review. The agency’s denial of an administrative hearing is reversed.” 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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The Presidential election is about a month away, and one of the major issues of this election has been immigration.   Immigration is regulated under federal law, chiefly under the Immigration and

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Nationality Act (INA), enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1952, and the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1986 in an effort to curb illegal immigration.   The U.S. Supreme Court has has almost universally overruled any state’s efforts to regulate immigration, not only based upon the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but also to ensure a national standard on immigration rather than various patchwork laws by the individual states.  Family law, however, is an area that falls into the control of the individual state’s authority to legislate and govern. Continue reading

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The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, more commonly referred to as “the right to bear arms,” can GunControl_12_2at times conflict with society’s ability to protect other citizens from those same citizens that have taken up their right bear arms. Nowhere is this more evident than in the tragic events that occurred in Dallas, TX this week where five police officers were killed by sniper fire coming from Micah Johnson who was later killed in a standoff with the police. Continue reading

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When contemplating divorce many people fail to consider other causes of action that should be raised in a Complaint for Divorce and risk being barred from making a claim in the future.  In file000799318829addition to asserting one or more of the statutory grounds for divorce, such as irreconcilable differences, a Complaint for Divorce may contain tort claims, including those of marital tort.  A marital tort encompasses various differences for which a complainant may seek monetary damages.  Such torts may include being infected with a sexually transmitted disease by one’s spouse, physical assault and battery, marital rape, wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, use of excessive force, defamation, wiretapping, battered women’s syndrome or attempted murder. 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