Domestic (physical) Violence Warrants Issuance of FROOctober 31, 2016
In the published decision of A.M.C. v. P.B., the New Jersey Appellate Division reviewed and reversed a trial court’s denial of a final restraining order (FRO) under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. In so doing, the Court reviewed the seminal case Silver v. Silver which required the victim to establish (1) a qualifying relationship with the abuser; (2) that the abuser committed one or more of the predicate acts of domestic violence identified in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act; and (3) there is a need for the protection of an FRO going forward. In the recent decision, the Appellate Division reviewed the step three. In the A.M.C. v. P.B. trial, the trial court determined that the victim satisfied the requirements of (1) and (2), but failed to meet (3). Consequently, the trial court determined that a final restraining order was not necessary to protect the victim from future acts of domestic violence. On appeal, the Appellate Division reviewed and reversed this finding.
In rejecting the trial court’s finding, the court opined that the trial court misapplied (3) to the case and improperly created mitigation factors (length of relationship and lack of children) that were not contained within the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to find against the issuance of a FRO. Consequently, the Appellate Division exercised original jurisdiction and issued a FRO. This case stands for the general proposition that when there exists a physical assault on a victim, the general presumption weighs in favor of the issuance of a FRO. From a practitioner’s standpoint, this case represents a tool for victims of domestic violence to guarantee that they receive the strongest civil protection available under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.