Articles Posted in Rules of Court

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This past week the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished opinion in the case of V.J.C vs. M.V. (docket no.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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Going through a divorce can be time consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining, among many other things. For this reason and more, many people try to rush the process and enter into an file0001849487704-300x225ill advised settlement agreement  on their own in order to obtain a quick divorce and move on with their lives sooner rather than later.  Conversely, other people prefer to stick their heads in the sand and do nothing when their spouse files a divorce complaint, which can lead to the entry of a default judgment of divorce by the court that is contrary to their best interest.  While taking either of these actions may work for some individuals, if such actions result in an unfavorable outcome, it can be costly and possibly difficult to correct, if they can be corrected at all. Continue reading

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SlashI was recently perusing a periodical and came across a story about a celebrity musician who was claiming he was never married to his wife of 15 years because of a known snafu in her earlier divorce paperwork. The headline stated “Slash claims he was never married to wife of 15 years”. (http://www.metro.us/entertainment/slash-claims-he-was-never-married-to-wife-of-15-years/zsJpjE—wsgif5AIi7dW6/). For those of you who don’t know, Slash, who’s legal name Saul Hudson (which better calls to mind the fictional character Saul Goodman of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”),  is the prolific lead guitarist of the recently reformed rock group Guns N’ Roses.  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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It is hard to believe that the end of summer is fast approaching. Whether you consider the beginning of summer to be Memorial Day weekend or the 4th of July, it still seems like it was only yesterday. How time flies. Besides shorter days, cooler nights, school commencing, and packing away the swim suits, the end of summer ushers in another tradition which members of the legal community can look forward to – the Amendments to the New Jersey Court Rules. Gavel & book Continue reading