On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Sussex County, Docket Nos. FV-19-449-09 and FV-19-452-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Reisner and Chambers.
In these back-to-back cases,*fn1 E.B. appeals from the June 24, 2009 order entered in the case of E.B. v. J.B., Docket No. FV-19-449-09, dismissing his domestic violence complaint against J.B., his wife. He also appeals from the June 24, 2009, final restraining order entered against him in the case of J.B. v. E.B., Docket No. FV-19-452-09, and from the related orders of July 8, 2009, and July 27, 2009, awarding J.B. attorney's fees and lost wages. We affirm the dismissal of E.B.'s domestic violence complaint and remand the domestic violence case brought by J.B.
The orders arise from two companion domestic violence complaints that E.B. and J.B. filed against each other in April 2009. E.B. filed his complaint against J.B. on April 13, 2009, and obtained a temporary restraining order against her. His complaint was based on an incident that took place that day.
J.B. filed a domestic violence complaint against E.B. on April 15, 2009, and obtained a temporary restraining order against him. Her complaint was based on a series of incidents that took place from February 14, 2009, until April 9, 2009.
At the time the events set forth in the complaints occurred, the parties had been married twenty-one years, and a divorce action was pending. Although J.B. was seeing another man at the time, for many of the events, she was still living in the marital home, on and off. The parties had two daughters who were alienated from J.B. One daughter was away at college, and the second daughter, a teenager, lived in the marital home with her father.
The cases were tried together and took four days of trial testimony. Both sides were represented by counsel. Both E.B. and J.B. testified and presented divergent facts on many of the alleged incidents of domestic violence. The teenage daughter testified on behalf of her father, E.B., confirming his account of certain events. E.B. also presented the testimony of a police officer and an eyewitness to confirm his testimony that he had not engaged in any acts of domestic violence at a tavern on February 17, 2009.
The trial court placed an oral decision on the record at the conclusion of the hearing and issued a written supplemental decision the next day. The trial court found J.B. to be a credible witness and accepted her version of events. The trial court granted J.B.'s application for a final restraining order, attorney's fees, and lost wages. The trial court denied E.B.'s application for a final restraining order. E.B. appeals from these rulings.
A trial court considering a domestic violence complaint must first "determine whether the plaintiff has proven, by a preponderance of the credible evidence, that one or more of the predicate acts set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(a) has occurred." Silver v. Silver, 387 N.J. Super. 112, 125 (App. Div. 2006). Here, the predicate act asserted by E.B. in his complaint and the predicate acts found by the trial court on J.B.'s complaint were ...