On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Union County, Docket Nos. FV-20-002002-06 and FV-20-002036-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Gilroy and Baxter.
Appellant J.L.W. appeals from: 1) the June 7, 2006, order of the Family Part, which dismissed the complaint he had filed against respondent, V.W., his wife, pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (Act), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35; and from the final restraining order (FRO) entered the same day under a complaint filed by respondent, determining that appellant had committed the predicate act of harassment and granting respondent temporary custody of their two-year-old son. Appellant also appeals from the August 22, 2006, order, denying his motion for reconsideration. We affirm.
On May 30, 2006, appellant filed a domestic violence complaint against respondent, alleging that respondent had harassed him on May 24, 2006, by threatening to cut his throat and stab him while he was sleeping, and again on May 25, 2006, by threatening to call the police to falsely accuse him of raping her. A temporary restraining order (TRO) was entered that day in favor of appellant. On June 2, 2006, respondent filed a domestic violence complaint against appellant, alleging that on May 28, 2006, appellant had assaulted and harassed her by pushing, choking, kicking, and slapping her several times.
The complaint also referenced prior assaults on May 15, and 27, 2006.
On June 7, 2006, Judge Robert Mega conducted a final hearing on both complaints, each party appearing pro se. Both parties testified in furtherance of their complaints and in defense of the complaint filed by the other. Each party also called an independent witness. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Mega rendered an oral opinion, determining that respondent's testimony was more credible than that of appellant's. The judge concluded that appellant failed to prove that respondent had committed the predicate act of harassment by a preponderance of the evidence, and entered an order dismissing his complaint. Moreover, after determining respondent more credible, the judge concluded that appellant had assaulted respondent and entered an FRO against him. Because the judge determined that appellant had assaulted respondent, he did not decide whether appellant had committed the act of harassment. In reaching his decision, the judge stated in relevant part:
The husband alleges that on 4/24/06, he told . . . the wife that he was going to file for divorce. And that when he told her that, . . . she became enraged and threatened that if you file for divorce, I'll cut your throat and stab you while you're sleeping.
[T]he wife denied that . . . allegation had occurred, although she did recall him speaking to her and telling her that he wanted to get divorced.
On May, the 25th, the husband claims that the wife called and told him that she should call the cops and tell them that he raped her. The husband has said that the wife has threatened . . . to harm him if he stops the immigration process, and that she has threatened to call the police and make false allegations against him.
On 5/27, [the wife] states that she was kicked at a point in time by him, and on --this is now centering on the wife's complaint. On 5/28, she claims that the plaintiff kicked her in the legs, slapped her in the face, which caused her teeth to throb, and that the plaintiff hit her with an open hand.
She submits to this [c]court pictures marked D-1, D-2 and D-3. The pictures were of her right leg and her right knee area, those pictures showing bruises to the knee. And D-2 showing swelling to the knee. And D-3, again, being a repetitive picture. But she says these are ...