On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FV-13-0817-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted August 12, 2009
Before Judges Rodríguez and LeWinn.
Defendant A.T. appeals from the domestic violence final restraining order (FRO) entered against him in the Family Part on December 3, 2008. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
The pertinent factual background may be summarized as follows. The parties were married at the time of the hearing in this matter, but they had been in the throes of divorce litigation since December 14, 2007. They have two daughters, who were eleven and five years old respectively as of the hearing date. By order of the Family Part entered in February 2008, plaintiff N.T. resides in the marital residence in Marlboro Township with the children and defendant lives elsewhere.
Plaintiff testified that on November 3, 2008, she received a telephone call at work from her elder daughter and her sister, both of whom were at home. Plaintiff was informed that defendant had called the home telephone, threatened to kill her sister and told their daughter to "tell your mother that something is going to happen to her." The police were called and they, in turn, contacted the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) due to the threat conveyed to the parties' daughter.
Plaintiff filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) on November 6, 2008; she explained that the delay in filing was due to her work schedule; she "sometimes [works] double shift and . . . can't . . . find [a] replacement immediately." Plaintiff stated that the Marlboro Township Police Department had been "dealing with [the parties] . . . all year . . . because [they] had a civil restraint agreement . . . . [The] police [had] been to [the] house in the last year . . . about 40 times.
Plaintiff testified that defendant "calls [her] work constantly. He threatens people." Plaintiff stated that defendant "asks for [her] schedule[,]" when she has medical, dental and other appointments. In July 2008, the parties attended economic mediation in connection with their pending divorce; plaintiff stated that as she was driving home afterwards, defendant followed her in his car and tried to cut her car off on Route 9.
Plaintiff had previously sought a TRO in January 2008; at that time, she stated, defendant gave her a manuscript he was writing that contained language to the effect that defendant planned to "fly a plane into [the marital residence] in Marlboro and [to] kill himself on . . . his birthday."
Plaintiff testified that she just feel[s] . . . continuously that [she] cannot move on with [her] life because [defendant] tries to control every step [she takes]. He tries to intimidate [her]. . . .
And it continues. [She is] afraid to make a step. [She] look[s] behind [her] shoulder. [She] ask[s her] co-workers to walk [her] out of every place of employment because it continuously [is] either he waits or he follows. He calls. Any interaction that [they] have . . . , even if it's in court, he'll make sure that he will call [her] some horrible names.
. . . . [Her] mom takes care . . . of [the] kids and he passed by, not in the last month because [they] had [a] restraining order[,] but prior to that, he passes by the house because he knows that she is there and . . . [h]e'll make sure that he opens the window and yells something horrible to [her] mom.
Plaintiff also described an incident that occurred on December 29, 2007, when defendant called her "names like prostitute and whore" in the presence of the elder daughter, who told defendant not to call plaintiff such names. Defendant "tried to hit her or push her and [plaintiff] kind of stood in between. So instead of hitting [the daughter], he hit [plaintiff] . . . in the head with an open hand." On cross-examination, plaintiff acknowledged that she became involved in an argument with defendant after this incident in which she may have told him that she was "going to f---ing bury him."
The judge permitted plaintiff's mother, I.A., to testify over defendant's objection that she was "not mentioned in either this TRO complaint or prior TRO complaints." I.A. testified that, on approximately five occasions since January 2008, she had seen defendant "passing by [the house] . . . shouting [and] . . . yelling." He told her, "I'll kill you[,] you Russian prostitute." She added that defendant would frequently call the home phone; even when plaintiff changed her telephone number, defendant managed to learn the new number and continued to call. I.A. stated: "[H]e keeps saying that [plaintiff] is crazy and that he will ...