Appeal From a Final Restraining Order (“FRO”) Entered Against Pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (“PDVA”)
E.B. v. A.B.
Docket No. A-3241-20
Decided February 6, 2023
Submitted by New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal from a final restraining order (“FRO”) entered against pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (“PDVA”).
The parties married in October 2014 and had one child together in April 2016. In February 2020, plaintiff filed a domestic violence complaint against defendant alleging five predicate acts of domestic violence against her. These acts included assault, criminal restraint, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, and harassment. Defendant was granted a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) shortly thereafter and defendant was eventually arrested and charged with six indictable offenses.
After the conclusion of a trial in which Plaintiff testified she was repeatedly subjected to non-consensual sex throughout the marriage, the court granted a final restraining order (“FRO”), finding that the plaintiff had been sexually abused and that there was clear, credible evidence of egregious acts of domestic violence. Defendant then filed a motion to vacate the FRO based on newly discovered evidence. When filing the motion defendant had procedural deficiencies in the motion papers and the court relisted the motion for a hearing. However, defendant’s resubmitted motion sought to vacate the FRO under R. 4:50-1(b), and not under a showing of good cause pursuant to the PDVA that was the basis for the prior motion to vacate.
In April 2021, the trial judge entered an order maintaining the FRO and denying the motion to vacate. Defendant then filed a motion for reconsideration as well. That motion was also denied because the trial judge determined that there was no basis for relief. Defendant appealed.
On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court abused its discretion when it entered a FRO without testimony sufficient to describe a predicate act or a need for an FRO; the trial court erred when it denied defendant’s motion to vacate the FRO and for reconsideration; and the trial court gratuitously and improperly characterized defendant’s conduct as “outrageous” contempt of the FRO. Addressing defendant’s first contention, the Appellate Court stated that it was satisfied that defendant did not make an explicit showing of the three requirements under R. 4:50-1(b). Moreover, the court found that the trial judge’s findings are supported by the evidence in the record, and there is no indication that he abused his discretion. Thus, defendant has failed to establish a basis to overturn the denial of his motion to vacate the FRO.
Additionally, the Appellate Court found that defendant failed to show that the trial court’s decision was “based upon a palpably incorrect or irrational basis” or that the trial court “either did not consider, or failed to appreciate the significance of probative, competent evidence.” The court also determined that defendant failed to establish that the trial court otherwise abused its discretion in denying his motion for reconsideration.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients for appeals in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to FRO trials. 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.
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