court gavel from overhead

The lawyers at our law firm often advise our clients who have filed a Temporary Restraining Order that, under what is known as New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, of their right to obtain a No Contact Order.  Our attorneys, on behalf of our clients, often explain and obtain no Contact Orders as they are often issued after an arrest in a domestic violence incident as a condition of bail or during contentious divorce proceedings.  Our law firm also handles violations of No Contact Orders that may result in sanctions or being held in contempt of court.

In L.W. v. A.W., the parties were married in 1987 and had three children to the marriage who were all emancipated adults at the time of this action.  In 2010, the Wife filed the first domestic violence complaint against the Husband as well as an initial action for divorce after a physical altercation between the Husband and the middle child that resulted in the child’s arrest.  The Wife agreed to drop the charges if the Husband agreed to stay out of the house for two years.  The court therefore dismissed the charges contingent on the consent agreement, which “restrained the parties from having any communication with the other, except for non-harassing telephone, text, or email communication concerning issues relating to their children.”

Less than a year later, the Husband failed to comply with the terms of the dismissal order.  The Husband moved back into the house, and the Wife moved out just days later.  Since this separation, the parties have not lived together again.  The Wife then filed for divorce a second time.  In his final decision, the arbitrator of the divorce proceedings noted the Husband’s record of harassment toward the Wife, her family, and their children.  He recorded the Husband’s mass mailings to family, friends and acquaintances, and professionals involved with the family as well as emails to the Wife and her children blaming her for the divorce and “disparaging her in unfortunate ways.”

The arbitrator concluded that the Husband was having trouble accepting the divorce and taking any responsibility for his part in it.  In his final decision, the arbitrator suspended the Husband’s parenting time and entered a ‘No Contact Order’ enjoining him from “discussing, communicating, emailing, sending text messages, or other forms of written communications to the parties’ children and to [the Wife.]”  Because of the Husband’s behavior during the divorce proceedings, the arbitrator also awarded the Wife counsel fees.  The final judgment of divorce, which was entered in October of 2013, confirmed and incorporated the arbitrator’s final decision into the Final Judgment of Divorce.

Despite the No Contact Order, the Husband continued to harass the Wife.  He left threatening notes in her driveway and sent letters to their children blaming her for breaking up the marriage.  The Wife filed an enforcement motion, and the court entered an order stating that the No Contact Order was enforced and that future violations would be met with sanctions.  No Contact Orders are issued after an action has already taken place in order to keep the victim safe.

Here, despite the No Contact Order, the Husband continued to contact the Wife with degrading and disparaging letters and emails in the months following the divorce.  The Wife therefore filed a domestic violence complaint, alleging that four recent letters from the Husband constituted harassment.  Following a bench trial, the judge determined that a Final Restraining Order should be issued, and the Husband appealed.  The Appellate Division reversed and remanded the order based on the fact that the trial judge did not make the correct prerequisite findings necessary to enter a Final Restraining Order.

On remand, the trial court determined that the Wife’s testimony was credible and that numerous written and verbal communications that took place despite the issuance and enforcement of the No Contact Order were sufficient to establish the predicate acts of harassment necessary for a Final Restraining Order.  The judge noted that in the four months following the judge’s initial order reinforcing the No Contact Order in the parties’ final judgment of divorce, there were approximately seventy written communications from the Husband to the Wife.  These communications involved blaming the Wife for the effect the divorce may have on their daughter, accusing her of “destroying their son’s confidence” and “putting their daughter through agony” along with other threatening letters.

The judge noted the Husband’s apparent refusal to comply with the No Contact Order, and determined that the Final Restraining Order was necessary to protect the Wife.  He stated that as previous orders did not stop the Husband, “hopefully the fear of an immediate arrest for a violation of this Final Restraining Order will.”

Our attorneys stand prepared to assist you or a loved one who may be facing a domestic violence situation.  Your inquiry is invited.