Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

Yes. Under New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act an assault certainly provides for protection of the law after an assault. As an experienced restraining order lawyer, I am well aware that the victim does not need to show obvious marks of an assault in order to obtain a final restraining order from a judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey.

In C.S. v. M.A.K., the parties engaged in a dating relationship for about six years. The parties lived in M.A.K.’s home for two years with C.S.’s developmentally disabled son. M.A.K. gave C.S. a car for Christmas in 2011, but when the parties’ relationship ended, M.A.K. asked C.S. to return the car to him by April 1, 2016. M.A.K. did, however, allow C.S. and her son to continue living in his home after the relationship ended.

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Yes. If you have repeatedly told a former lover or spouse to leave you alone after the breakup yet they continue to text you, you may obtain a restraining order. The domestic violence lawyers at our law firm will collect the evidence that the harasser continued to text you, call you or even surprise you at your home in order to prove to a judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey that the restraining order is required for protection under New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. Below is this attorney’s take on a recent case.

In B.T. v. S.J.L., the parties engaged in a romantic relationship for about one year. B.T. stopped talking to S.J.L. in November 2016 in order to distance herself from him. S.J.L. then sent B.T. several text messages and left many voicemails asking that B.T. speak to him. On November 12, 2016, S.J.L. sent B.T. text messages asking why she is ignoring him. B.T. ultimately told S.J.L. that she did not want to speak with him and she told him goodbye. Despite B.T.’s response, S.J.L. sent many more messages over the next few days asking to speak with her. S.J.L. sent B.T. one message that implied S.J.L. was waiting outside of S.J.L.’s home. At that point, B.T. responded to S.J.L. and asked him to leave her alone. Continue reading

Over the course of my career as a divorce and family law attorney I have watched technology change many aspects of New Jersey law, especially as it pertains to New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. When I started practicing in my hometown of East Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1996, many restraining order trials were most often “he said, she said” affairs as most times there were not any no witnesses or other proofs. Then technology altered many aspects of our society, including acts of domestic violence.

First, people would send harassing or threatening emails to one another.  Then texting and smartphones came into play and the game changed forever. By 2012 a survey discussed on the Today Show stated that over 90% of lawyers saw a dramatic increase in text messages being introduced as evidence in domestic violence trial. This recent case discusses how a judge of a New Jersey Family Court analyzes text messages during a restraining order trial ranging from the amount of messages, the time frame as well as the content.

In C.O. v. T.O., the parties were married and were divorcing. The New Jersey Appellate Division previously vacated a final restraining order entered by the Superior Court of New Jersey Family Part pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1990. The court supported the Family Part’s finding that T.O. committed a predicate act, which is an earlier crime or offense that is similar to the crime or offense being alleged. However, the Appellate Division sent the case back to the Family Part to be re-heard because there was no finding that a final restraining order was necessary to protect the victim from future harm or abuse. At the re-hearing by the Family Part, the judge heard testimony by the parties and reviewed the alleged predicate act. The judge reviewed the messages from T.O. to C.O., which constituted harassment under N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(a), and found that the testimony revealed a combative relationship between the parties. The judge found that T.O.’s text messages established harassment and that a final restraining order was necessary to prevent C.O. from future harm because the parties’ divorce was going to be very hostile. The judge also found that T.O.’s conviction in March 2016 for violating the restraining order weighed in favor of supporting the need for the restraining order.

Yes. Once a Judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey finds that domestic violence happened on the day(s) in question, they shall then allow your lawyer to take testimony of any and all acts of domestic violence that have occurred in the past. Significantly, a history of domestic violence shall be taken into consideration by a judge of a New Jersey Family Court even if was never reported to the police. This is because it is sadly often that the victim of the cycle of domestic violence is afraid to reach out for help for fear of revenge at the hands of their domestic abuser. Other factors that frequently come into play for the attorneys at our law firm is the victim is afraid they may lose custody of their children or they are at the mercy of their

In S.M.E. v. A.E., husband A.E. appealed from a final restraining order entered by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part of Morris County on January 3, 2016, after finding that he assaulted his wife, S.M.E. at her house, and threatened her when they were in the middle of getting a divorce. The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the final restraining order, for substantially the same reasons expressed in David J. Weaver’s comprehensive oral opinion that was rendered before entry of the final restraining order. Generally, just proving that that one of the predicate acts of domestic violence established in New Jersey Statute 2C:25-19(a) occurred is not enough to automatically trigger the entrance of a domestic violence restraining order. While such a determination may be self evident, the authoritative standard is whether a restraining order is needed, according to an evaluation of the factors enumerated in New Jersey Statute 2C:25-29(a)(1) to -29(a)(6), to protect the victim from immediate danger or to prevent future abuse. However, in S.M.E. v. A.E. the New Jersey Appellate Division held that when a predicate act of domestic violence is an action that inherently involves the use of physical violence and force, the decision to enter a final restraining order is most often perfunctory and self-evident. As such, the New Jersey Appellate Division deferred to the findings of the Honorable Judge Weaver, which they found to be based on substantial credible evidence in the record, and affirmed the final restraining order entered by the Family Part of Morris County.

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The lawyers at our law firm here in East Brunswick, New Jersey, handle many child custody disputes. Needless to say, emotions run very high which may result in one parent having to obtain a restraining order against the other while the child custody case is still ongoing. The attorneys at our New Jersey based law firm have had many cases wherein the temporary restraining order was absolutely necessary to protect the victim. However and regretfully, we have also had cases in which a questionable temporary restraining order is obtained by one parent with the underhanded goal of hoping to gain an “upper hand” in the child custody dispute. This blog analyzes how a judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey decides if the restraining order is “credible” or was obtained for the sole purpose of gaining an unfair advantage in the pending child custody case.

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In A.S. v. V.S., the Honorable Judge Jones of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part of Ocean County, addressed the problem of evidentiary issues in a domestic violence case, when a complaint is simultaneously filed in a Family Part court relating to issues of parenting time, child custody, support, divorce, separation, or other related issues. Judge Jones held that under the principle enumerated in Murray v. Murray, when a complaint alleging domestic violence is filed on or near the same time as another family court complaint, the may can appropriately consider the proximity of the filing as relevant to issues of motivation, credibility, bias, and the possibility that the domestic violence complaint was filed in order to gain a legal advantage, in regards to rulings about support, custody or other similar issues. However, in terms of evidence, Murray does not automatically create a presumption that a domestic violence complaint that is filed at the same time of companion family court litigation is not legitimate. Even though it is possible that one party may have filed a domestic violence complaint in an effort to acquire a legal advantage in another litigation, it is just as possible that as a result of family court litigation, the other party committed domestic violence. Furthermore, because of the specific nature of domestic violence, a complaint alleging domestic violence can be substantiated by testimonial evidence by one of the parties, without the need for video proof, or eyewitnesses.

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Yes. Throughout my career as a family law attorney, I have observed New Jersey laws evolve along with technology. Ranging from divorce and child custody cases to domestic violence matters, posts on social media websites have become powerful evidence for lawyers to present to judges of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey. Such posts can be used to prove a plethora of behaviors spanning the cause for a divorce (i.e., pictures with a paramour) to child neglect and even terroristic threats.   Furthermore, what your “ex” expresses about you on a social media platform, especially when children are involved, can generate high emotions and serious problems ranging from embarrassment (especially considering the wide scope of people that social media reaches) to fear for one’s (or your family’s) safety and well being.  Moreover, with more and more children on social media, it is clearly not in their best interests to be watching their parents “go at it” for all to see.

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Therefore, the lawyers at my law firm have taken steps in cases wherein the parties agree that it is not in anyones’ best interest to have the other making disparaging, public comments on the internet. It is essential that both parties stipulate to such an arrangement to become a court order. This is because a judge cannot order such an arrangement due to a legal theory known as stare decisis (i.e., precedent). However, your attorneys may still draft language that would achieve the goal of neither “ex” disparaging the other on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.   Specifically, you may have your lawyer prepare a Consent Order that would memorialize such an agreement. Once the terms of the consent order are finalized, the judge assigned to your case shall execute the Consent Order and it then becomes law. Consequently, if the other party violates the consent order, you would have the right to have your attorney file a motion with a New Jersey Family Court to enforce your litigant’s rights, sanctions and attorneys’ fees in connection with the application.

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One of the most difficult matters you can come across as a family law attorney are those concerning domestic violence. As a practicing New Jersey restraining order lawyer, I have represented many individuals throughout my career and have encountered countless scenarios wherein I would not be able to makeup such a unique and interesting set of facts even if I tried. This not only makes the practice of law interesting, but it also keeps veteran attorneys on their toes. You never know what may transpire during the life of a case or what might happen to your client during pending litigation. No matter what occurs, as long as it is within the confines of the law, i.e. we would never represent or further the efforts of someone trying to do something illegal or unethical; as an attorney, you are tasked with zealously representing your client.

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This is one of the most sensitive issues that the lawyers at my law firm have faced in the past 20 years of handling final restraining order matters here in New Jersey. Long story short, we represented the victim of domestic violence in a final restraining order hearing at the Family Part, Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex County. Just as the trial was about to begin, the attorney for the defendant stated that she would like to video the domestic violence trial. Of course, we immediately objected (we feared that the defendant would then place this video on the Internet in a future attempt to further harass our client) and requested a conference. Back in chambers, the judge then advised both lawyers that they had one hour “over lunch break” to research the issue and prepare their respective arguments.

At that point, myself and two of the other attorneys at my office all dove in (we practice “team work” at our law firm) to help our fellow associate attorney at the court house with research of case law, statutes and any other directives that would bolster our argument. By 1:30 p.m. that afternoon, his argument prevailed and the defendant was not allowed to video the final restraining order trial.   Our client was beyond relieved.

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As an experienced trial attorney, I am well aware that New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act allows a victim to obtain a temporary or final restraining order against a “household member.” However, while most lawyers understand this to include what is commonly known as “elder abuse,” I have found that far too many folks do not have a full appreciation of who has standing (i.e., the ability to seek a retraining order) under New Jersey’s domestic violence laws. However, the Honorable Lawrence R. Jones, recently specifically confirmed that that Prevention of Domestic Violence Act specifically includes victims of elder abuse at the hands of their own adult child.

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In the very recent Ocean County Superior Court case of J.C. v. B.S., set the record straight on elder abuse in New Jersey. This case of first impression held that public policy allows victims of elder abuse to use the Domestic Violence Act to seek protection, and obtain restraining orders against their abusers.

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As an attorney who has handled countless restraining order trials, it is my legal opinion that cell phones have been a true game-changer with respect to the landscape of New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. As I and the experienced attorneys ay my law firm all embrace, cell phones can contain valuable evidence in the form of text messages, e-mails, and voice-mails that can make or break a vast majority of final restraining order trials. Still there are strict rules about evidence and whether it is admissible in a New Jersey Family Court and how evidence must be presented. The recent case of E.C. v. R.H. tackled the issue of how electronic information stored on cell phones should be presented in a court of law.

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In E.C. v. R.H. , Judge Jones, Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Ocean County, explained what should happen at a final hearing when a litigant presents evidence directly from his or her phone such as texts, e-mails, social media messages, or audio/visual evidence.

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