Expanding Domestic Violence Protection in NJ
A new ruling is likely to expand domestic violence protection in New Jersey, as an appeals court has ruled that a judge who denied a restraining order should have taken into account the divorced husband’s past civil restraint violations.
In the case in question, N.B. v. S.K., the couple was married in 1993. But the marriage went sour, and they began the process of divorce in the early 2000s. Both parties secured restraining orders against one another, based on the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.
At the time of the divorce settlement in 2003, the soon-to-be ex-couple vacated the protection orders in lieu of an agreement within the divorce settlement itself: the property settlement agreement. The agreement included language in such a way that it prohibited harassment, and established strict limits and boundaries on communications between the couple.
Violations of the Settlement Agreement
The ex-husband, S.K., violated the agreement continually, via phone calls and emails. In 2006, some three years post-divorce, the ex-wife, N.B., requested restraint enforcement. In January of 2009, N.B. requested another restraining order, but the judge ruled against, noting that S.K.’s actions were not considered domestic violence.
S.K. then proceeded to leave four voice mails on N.B.’s phone in June 2012. This was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. N.B.’s lawyer noted that the calls were upsetting and fear-inducing when considered within the context of the history between the former couple, and that the calls violated the divorce judgment’s agreement.
The judge in this case, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Michael Guadagno, held that there was “no precedent supporting a finding that violation of a matrimonial restraining order constitutes an act of domestic violence.”
The appeals court said that the plaintiff, N.B., is entitled to submit past evidence that demonstrates violation of the matrimonial restraints laid in place at the time of the divorce. They stipulated that this is not because the violation of the order is an act of domestic violence, but rather that the violations support the plaintiff’s claim that the ex husband did indeed commit harassment on many occasions with intent to seriously annoy or alarm.
This reasoning could well expand the scope of domestic violence protection in New Jersey
Contact Freeman Hughes Freeman, LLC, to Speak With Experienced Divorce and Domestic Violence Protection Attorneys
We understand the complexities of a domestic violence charge. When couples are divorcing or dealing with a difficult situation, it is not uncommon for tempers to flare. Many times, one spouse is upset enough to falsely accuse the other of spousal abuse. We will stand by your side and provide you with solid and compassionate domestic violence defense. Before anything, we will take the time to listen and understand your side of the story.