On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Somerset County, Docket No. FV-18-0243-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 1, 2010
Before Judges Fisher and Simonelli.
Respondent has not filed a brief.
Defendant appeals from a final restraining order (FRO) entered against him and in favor of his ex-wife, pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (the Act), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. Because the predicate acts were not alarming or seriously annoying but akin to what we have described as "ordinary domestic contretemps," Corrente v. Corrente, 281 N.J.
Super. 243, 250 (App. Div. 1995), because the judge did not find defendant acted with the purpose to harass, and because the judge did not find restraints were necessary to protect plaintiff from immediate danger or to prevent further abuse, we reverse.
The trial consisted only of the testimony of the parties, who represented themselves. Although he did not specifically enumerate the acts of domestic violence found to have occurred, we discern from the judge's credibility findings that he found all the acts alleged by plaintiff to have occurred as plaintiff described them; accordingly, we will assume the judge found the following facts, which we take from plaintiff's testimony:
-- on July 24, 2009, defendant called plaintiff "repeated[ly]";
-- on July 25 and 26, 2009, defendant made "several" telephone calls to plaintiff while she was at work; she told him to send an e-mail, but he "continued to call, refused to send an e-mail, [and] was yelling about" whether she had made payments necessary for their children to play soccer and engage in cheerleading; during these telephone calls, defendant was "very aggressive and hostile";
-- on August 5, 2009, plaintiff was standing outside a yoga studio when defendant "stopped his car, rolled down his window and yelled . . . [']get your ass home and take care of your kids[']";
-- on August 11, 2009, defendant telephoned plaintiff at work again to complain about the soccer and cheerleading fees; according to plaintiff, "the phone call lasted a couple of minutes and I was trying to be business-like, as I was standing in my office and I said to him, [']can you please slow down?['] He said [']no, I won't slow down. If I slow down, I might get nice.['] And the phone call ended [with defendant] saying, 'get it done, bitch,' and he hung up";
-- on August 12, 2009, plaintiff answered their daughter's cellphone; defendant was on the line and "insult[ed] and harass[ed]" plaintiff about her ...