Final Restraining Order (FRO) Affirmed Against Defendant After Running Over Plaintiff’s Foot During a Parenting Exchange
Docket No. 2257-20
Decided March 28, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey Family Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished decision the Appellate Division of New Jersey affirmed a trial court’s entry of a Final Restraining Order (FRO) against defendant after running over plaintiff’s foot during a parenting exchange.
In O.T., The parties were married in 2015 and have two children, ages four and six. The parties were in the midst of divorce proceedings. The judge found that during a parenting time exchange at a police station on October 5, 2020, while the parties’ two young children were seated in defendant’s car, plaintiff approached the passenger side of defendant’s car “in an aggressive demeanor” and started “banging on the door . . . demanding [defendant] open the door.” She then walked to the driver’s side of the car and began yelling at defendant about an issue regarding the children. Defendant “encourage[d] her to back up” as she was “encroaching on his personal space,” but “[s]he refuse[d].”
Despite defendant’s continuing entreaties, plaintiff did not move away from his car. Defendant responded by calling her a “raging animal” and sarcastically told her she should “lay down” in front of the car. Further, he told her to “get out of his face.” Plaintiff taunted defendant, saying “who cares about your face, only your mother.” Additionally, she struck defendant “about the shoulder [and] neck.”
Based on surveillance footage and audio from the incident, the Court determined that Defendant ran over plaintiff’s foot despite the wheel being turned away from her. The vehicle door was open and the children were in the car. Based on this, the Court entered an FRO against the defendant.
Defendant appealed, and the Appellate Division affirmed, finding that the predicate act of simple assault was perpetrated by defendant running over plaintiff’s foot. Once a simple assault is established, the necessity of an FRO is almost self-evident and no additional acts need to be proven to enter an FRO.
The case is important to understand the requirements a Court must find to enter a Final Restraining Order (FRO) against a defendant. The Court must find the parties have a relationship that is encompassed by the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, that a predicate act of domestic violence occurred, and that the restraining order is necessary for the plaintiff’s protection. Normally, more than one predicate act of domestic violence is needed for the entry of the FRO, showing a need of protection because more than one event has occurred and there will likely be more. With physical contact such as simple assault, as was the case here, the plaintiff may only need to prove one predicate act and the necessity of the FRO is self-evident, meeting all requirements for the entry of the FRO.
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