A.I. v. D.I. Legal Saga: FRO Dissolution Denied, Appellate Court Upholds Decision – Dec 11, 2023

A.I. v. D.I.

Docket No. A-0658-22

Decided December 11, 2023

Submitted by New Jersey Family Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal from the trial court’s denial of his second motion to dissolve a Final Restraining Order (FRO).

After a four-year relationship with the defendant, in the summer of 2015, plaintiff ended their relationship. After the parties broke up, defendant went to the plaintiff’s mother’s home, where the plaintiff resided, and broke an object in front of both the plaintiff and her mother. Defendant and his friends also posted comments on the internet about the plaintiff, which included wishing for the plaintiff’s death, threatening her life, and accusing her of an on-the-job liaison. Due to these acts, plaintiff was successful in obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against defendant. Less than one month later, defendant violated the TRO and was criminally charged.

At the final restraining order hearing, defendant admitted to harassing plaintiff. He also indicated the criminal charges against him were dismissed. On September 28, 2015, based on defendant’s admissions, the court granted plaintiff a FRO. The FRO prohibited the defendant from communicating with or contacting plaintiff or her parents, and barred him from plaintiff’s home, place of employment, and family summer home.

Defendant then filed a motion to dissolve the FRO, which was denied after a plenary hearing on June 6, 2018. Seven years after the entry of the FRO, defendant filed a second motion to dissolve the FRO. In determining whether a plenary hearing was necessary, the court assessed the parties’ arguments in light of the eleven Carfagno[1] factors. After hearing oral argument, the trial court concluded that defendant’s reasons for dissolution were insufficient and denied his application to dissolve the FRO. The trial court articulated that defendant’s failure to take down the remaining internet post, the continued encounters between the parties, and plaintiff’s continued fear of defendant warranted the FRO’s continuation. Defendant subsequently appealed.

On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court (1) abused its discretion in denying his motion to dissolve the FRO without the benefit of a plenary hearing; and (2) misapplied the Carfagno factors. Defendant specifically argued that the trial court failed to find that plaintiff lacked an objective fear of defendant based on her failure to contact authorities when the parties inadvertently encountered one another on several occasions after the FRO was entered, which also implicates whether she opposed defendant’s motion in good faith; consider the prejudicial effect the FRO has on defendant, which he claims is “a prerequisite in determining whether good cause exists to vacate a FRO in the first place” based on Sweeney v. Honachefsky, 313 N.J. Super. 443, 448 (App. Div. 1998); properly weigh the remaining internet post from 2015; and consider plaintiff’s changed circumstances.

Ultimately, the Appellate Court found that defendant’s arguments were belied on the record. After reviewing the parties’ arguments in light of the complete record, the court found no substantial change in circumstances from the entry of the FRO to the denial of the previous motion to dissolve the FRO. Furthermore, the court stated that the trial court’s ruling was based on the totality of the Carfagno factors, which cumulatively weighed in favor of the FRO’s continuation. Therefore, since the record supports the trial court’s findings of fact, which demonstrates that its ruling was based on adequate, substantial credible evidence, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in continuing plaintiff’s FRO.

At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients for appeals in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to motions to dissolve final restraining orders. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of the defendant in this case, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.


[1] Carfagno v. Carfagno, 288 N.J. Super. 424 (Ch. Div. 1995).

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Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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