Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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.

Continue reading

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.

EDDIEVIDEO-300x225

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.

Continue reading

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.

SOCIALMEDIAPIC

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Elder

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.

Continue reading

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.

BULLY

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.

Continue reading

After 20 years as a family law attorney, I am well aware that it is much easier to obtain a temporary restraining order (usually done without the assistance of an attorney) versus being granted a final restraining order (which usually requires a lawyer experienced in domestic violence matters). Moreover, through out my years as an attorney I thought I had seen it all, until the first time my client failed to appear for their court date, not just once, but twice! Well, you do not need to be a lawyer to know that it is a litigant’s duty to appear in court and failure to appear may very well lead to defeat. Even an open and shut case will be put into peril by a continued nonappearance. In K.M. v. A.M., the New Jersey Appellate Division confirmed that the dismissal of the “victim’s” complaint for a final restraining order was appropriate due to multiple failures to appear at the hearing.

Middlesex County Family Court

Middlesex County Family Court

Many times, Family Part judges utilize restraining orders to protect women from their former partners. A temporary restraining order is an order issued by a judge in an attempt to keep one person from harassing another person or group of people. The temporary restraining order is only effective for a short period of time, usually lasting no more than a month at most. This is because, in most instances, only one person’s request is needed to get the order. For it to become permanent or semi-permanent, a court of law must hear from not only the party who wants someone else to leave him or her alone, but also needs to hear from the person who is accused of violence, harassment, stalking, or other potentially illegal action.

Even for an experienced New Jersey Divorce and Family Attorney, determining whether an individual’s behavior amounts to harassment under New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is a challenge. When a couple is experiencing a messy “break up,” my office is frequently asked to investigate such situations. As a New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyer for nearly the past 20 years, my legal team and I analyze the specific facts of the situation in order to advise our client’s whether a Temporary Restraining Order is necessary. Simply put, the difference between Harassment under New Jersey’s Criminal Code versus “breaking up bickering” is often a very fine line. The best way to explain the difference is to share some examples but first let’s be clear what harassment is under New Jersey’s Criminal Code.

What is Harassment in New Jersey?

Harassment is Domestic Violence in New Jersey if the aggressor purposely intended to harass by using a course of alarming conduct or repeated acts intended to alarm or seriously annoy another causing immediate danger to a person or their property.

Who can I get a Temporary Restraining Order against?

You may obtain a Temporary Restraining Order against a spouse, a former spouse, a present or former household member, a person that you have a child with (even if currently pregnant) or someone that you have or had a dating relationship with.
What are examples of Harassment under New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act?

I often find the best way to explain complex areas of NJ Domestic Violence law is to use examples. The “Plaintiff” is the victim who has obtained a Temporary Restraining Order and the “Defendant” is the accused domestic abuser. In each example that the Defendant was found to have harassed the Plaintiff, a Final Restraining Order was issued. Following please find a number of illustrations to help crystallize your understanding of Harassment in N.J.:
Continue reading

As an NJ Family lawyer, I am frequently asked, “Can I against a restraining order?” When this occurs, I must first determine whether New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (“the Act”) protects the victim. Therefore, I must learn certain facts surrounding the situation.

First, the victim must be over the age of 18 years of age or is an emancipated minor. Typical examples of an emancipated minor include if they are married, are enlisted in military service, has a child or is pregnant, or have been declared by a Court Order as legally emancipated;

Second, The victim must be deemed as a “household member.” When a law enforcement officer appears on the scene, they must determine the length of time that the two persons have resided together. When in doubt, the officer must contact a supervising officer or the municipal court judge.
Continue reading