FRO Was Necessary to Protect Plaintiff Was Based on the History of Domestic Violence

C.L.D. v. L.R.L.

Docket No. A-0595-21

Decided October 24, 2022

Submitted by New Jersey Family Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal of a final restraining order (“FRO”) entered against her and in favor of the plaintiff and a subsequent order denying her motion for reconsideration.

The parties in this matter dated previously, resided together for several years, and have a child together. Their parenting time is governed by a non-dissolution order that requires them to exchange the child at their local police department. As time progressed, the parties agreed to change the parenting time exchange away from the police department, and on the date of the underlying incident, August 2021, defendant was supposed to pick the child up from plaintiff’s residence.

At the FRO hearing, Plaintiff testified the defendant became upset because plaintiff did not have time to take the parties’ child to the park, yet had time for his fiancé and her children. When defendant was making these remarks, plaintiff’s fiancé exited the plaintiff’s home and began placing her children into her car. Defendant continued to express her displeasure and focused her anger on the plaintiff’s fiancé. As the fiancé walked over to the defendant, defendant spit on plaintiff and insulted the fiancé. Plaintiff took the children away and returned to break up the fight. Plaintiff’s fiancé stopped fighting but defendant attacked her and plaintiff and scratched plaintiff’s face. The plaintiff also testified about the history of domestic violence between the parties which included a prior TRO, threats, and hitting him with a baseball bat. Defendant asserted plaintiff’s fiancé attacked her while she was sitting in her car and admitted hitting plaintiff with baseball bat but asserted it was in self-defense.

The trial judge found plaintiff credible and defendant not credible. The trial judge concluded that defendant assaulted the plaintiff in August 2021 by scratching his face. The trial judge also found that plaintiff demonstrated an ongoing need for an FRO, reasoning this finding on plaintiff’s testimony about his fear of the defendant and defendant’s controlling behavior. Thus, plaintiff was granted an FRO and defendant’s complaint was dismissed. Defendant then retained counsel and moved for reconsideration of the FRO contending that a video taken on the date of the incident would show that she was not the aggressor, as well as text messages between the parties showing civil communications. The trial judge considered the video and the text messages, but still believed there was a need for an FRO because of a continued risk of further violence moving forward, and denied the motion for reconsideration. Defendant subsequently appealed.

On appeal, the Appellate Court found that there was adequate evidence to support the trial judge’s finding that plaintiff proved defendant assaulted him by scratching his face. According to the court, the substantial credible evidence in the record did not support defendant’s self-defense theory. Additionally, the trial judge’s finding that an FRO was necessary to protect plaintiff was based on the history of domestic violence, the need to protect plaintiff from the occurrence of future acts of violence, and the best interests of plaintiff and the parties’ child, who witnessed a part of the August 2021 incident was supported by evidence in the record. Both the trial court’s determination that an FRO was necessary in this matter and the order denying defendant’s motion for reconsideration were affirmed.

At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients for appeals in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to appealing an order granting an FRO. 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 either party 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.




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Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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