New Jersey Info
New Jersey Divorce Start Your Divorce Find Professionals New Jersey Articles Divorce Facts Divorce Grounds Residency Divorce Laws Property Division Alimony Child Custody Child Support Divorce Forms Process Service Grandparent Rights Forum New Jersey Products Divorce by County
New Jersey Articles
Agreements Attorney Relationship Custody & Visitation Child Support Collaborative Law Counseling Divorce/General Domestic Abuse Domestic Partnership Financial Planning Foreign Divorce Mediation Parenting Property Division Spousal Support
Domestic "Contretemps" are not Domestic Violence
Are domestic contretemps a type of domestic violence?
A major issue in many domestic violence cases is whether ordinary family arguing and fighting constitutes harassment under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The vast majority of domestic violence cases are based under the charge of simple harassment. As explained in my other articles domestic violence cases are often filed as a sword to kick out a spouse. The vast majority of domestic violence cases are filed on the grounds of repeated name-calling, belligerent telephone calls at work, a one finger salute, etc. Many judges have a very difficult time ruling on domestic violence cases filed on the grounds of harassment. Some judges have a very liberal interpretation of New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and they often enter a final restraining order based on harassment. Alternatively, some judges have a very conservative view on the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, and they consistently rule that there must be clear violence for a final restraining order to be issued.
In my many years of practice, I have repeatedly seen the domestic violence laws abused time and time again. In many cases a victim will agitate the defendant on and encourage an act of domestic violence. The main purpose of many victims is to have the judge order the defendant out of the marital home. This is a controversial statement but it is true in many cases.
A recent case provides more much more protection against marginal domestic violence cases based on harassment. In the case of E.D. v. P.D., A-692-09, the court held that discourteous calls and other aspersions were attributable to "ordinary domestic contretemps." The court held that belligerent telephone calls at work, repeated name-calling and a one finger salute did not amount to the predicate acts of harassment sufficient to warrant a restraining order against an ex-husband under the New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. Thus, the Appellate Division reversed the family court judge. Thereafter, the Appellate Division held in pertinent part:
"Even when viewed expansively, we cannot conclude from the judges findings that defendant engaged in any communications or conduct that rose to the level of what the Legislature intended as domestic violence."
What was the specific fact pattern of the E.D. v. P.D. holding?
The case of E.D. v. P.D., A-692-09 was heard in Somerset County Family Court. Here, Judge Coleman found that the husband P.D. made multiple phone calls to his wife E.D. at work on three consecutive days to inquire whether she had made payments to their children's soccer and cheerleading programs. P.D. allegedly lambasted E.D. during the calls. Moreover, he was hostile and aggressive and refused to correspond with E.D. via e-mail, as she requested.
Weeks later, Judge Coleman also found that P.D. pulled up to E.D. as she stood outside a yoga studio where she attended class and shouted "get your ass home and take care of your kids." P.D. made additional calls criticizing E.D.'s ability to pay bills and ended one such conversation by saying "get it done, bitch." then hanging up, and on anther occasion as the two parties' vehicle passed, P.D. slowed down and presented his middle finger with a "scared look on his face."
Judge Coleman held that these set of facts and actions by P.D. constituted harassment. Thus, the judge entered a final restraining order based on these incidents. The husband then appealed to the Appellate Division. On appeal, the court held this conduct did not amount to the predicate actions necessary to meet the standard for a final restraining order. More specifically the panel held:
"Although there are certain acts of domestic violence that may reveal such a need without a judge's express finding, when the claimed predicate act consists of harassment or other types of non-violence conduct, the judge is required to provide a principled analysis of why a restraining order is necessary to protect the victim from danger of further abused."
Thus, the court held that this type of verbal sparring was not intended to be covered in the state's domestic violence law. See, Corrente v. Corrente, 281 N.J. Super. 243 (App. Div. 1995).
In summary, the case is extremely important. Many divorcing couples get excited and raise their voices when dealing with each other. However, this type of behavior does not constitute domestic violence. The judges in domestic violence cases have a lot of discretion. Thus, the above case may be very important to cite to the court in a marginal domestic violence case.
In order for permanent alimony to be awarded in New Jersey, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years and one spouse must have become economically dependent on the other. This type of alimony allows the obligee to maintain the lifestyle to which he or she has become accustomed for the duration of the obligor's lifetime (unless the obligee remarries).
Easily Connect With a Lawyer or Mediator
Have Divorce Professionals from Your Area Contact You!
|Women's Rights Manual For Divorce
Cover Price: $
Your Price: $29.95
You Save: $26.00
"The Absolute Best Investment in Your Divorce"
|Men's Rights Manual For Divorce
Cover Price: $
Your Price: $29.95
You Save: $26.00
"Uncover Your Options and Unleash Solutions"
|The information contained on this page is not to be considered legal advice. This website is not a substitute for a lawyer and a lawyer should always be consulted in regards to any legal matters. Divorce Source, Inc. is also not a referral service and does not endorse or recommend any third party individuals, companies, and/or services. Divorce Source, Inc. has made no judgment as to the qualifications, expertise or credentials of any participating professionals. Read our Terms & Conditions.|