On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Middlesex County, Docket No. FV-12-1235-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 14, 2009
Before Judges Reisner and Yannotti.
Defendant Y.J. appeals from a final restraining order entered by the trial court on December 22, 2008, pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. We affirm.
Plaintiff testified with the assistance of an interpreter who translated her testimony from Mandarin Chinese into English. She stated that the parties were divorced in May of 2008. It appears from the record that plaintiff has primary residential custody of the children and defendant has the right to visitation.
Plaintiff testified that on December 7, 2008, defendant brought the parties' children to a pet store, and around 6:00 p.m., plaintiff arrived for the exchange of the children. Plaintiff stated that she and defendant got into an argument about a mortgage. She asserted that defendant called her a whore and said that she flirted with other men.
Plaintiff further testified that defendant threatened her with his arm. She stated that defendant "turned to get in front of [her] and he . . . landed a fist on [her] face." The police were called to the scene and plaintiff was taken to a hospital in an emergency vehicle. She testified that her "face was swollen for four to five days."
Defendant disputed plaintiff's version of the incident. He said that he was in front of the pet store and plaintiff kicked him in the leg. He claimed that plaintiff attacked his head, neck and face. Defendant acknowledged that he raised his right arm. He said that he turned around and tried to protect himself.
Defendant stated, "[m]aybe I catch her or something when I turn around with my arm."
Defendant additionally testified that the parties previously had disputes about visitation with the children. He stated that, on June 1, 2008, plaintiff kicked, pinched and smacked him when he was at her shop. He said that plaintiff scratched his neck. He presented a photo showing the scratches. Defendant also said there had been an earlier incident when plaintiff refused to allow him to see the children.
The trial court rendered its decision from the bench. The court noted that the parties had "a very volatile relationship" that was not improving "despite the fact that the parties have now divorced." The court determined that defendant had committed a simple assault. The court commented, "[w]hat we have here is more than a simple slap. We have a punch to the face which require[d] the [p]laintiff to seek medical attention." The court found that there was "no doubt from the testimony that an assault took place."
The court additionally found that there had been a prior incident of domestic violence between the parties and disagreements over the divorce. The court stated, however, that whatever plaintiff was doing with regard to the parties' marital agreement did not give defendant "the right to engage in physical violence." The court determined that a restraining order was necessary to protect plaintiff from future acts of domestic ...