On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, FV-13-356-12.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued Telephonically November 15, 2012
Before Judges Reisner and Yannotti.
Defendant A.G. appeals from a December 12, 2011 order entering a Final Restraining Order (FRO) in favor of his ex-wife, plaintiff O.R., pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), N.J.S.A. 2C:25 -17 to -35.*fn1 For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
After an eighteen-year marriage, the parties separated in 2008, and were divorced in December 2010. They had one adult son together. According to plaintiff's testimony at the FRO hearing, the divorce was particularly contentious because, after the parties separated but before the divorce was finalized, she had two children with another man. She testified that during and after the divorce proceedings, defendant repeatedly stalked her and threatened her. She described her efforts to avoid him by moving to different locations. The parties had lived together in Brooklyn, but plaintiff moved first to Staten Island and then to Monmouth County, New Jersey, in an effort to get away from defendant.
However, plaintiff testified that defendant was able to locate her. She testified that defendant repeatedly sent her threatening messages through two mutual friends of theirs - F.G. and A.R. According to plaintiff, defendant told these two that he was going to kill plaintiff or make her "disappear," and that her two young children would then be placed in foster care.
On August 18, 2011, plaintiff filed an emergent application for a restraining order in Monmouth County. Her application recited:
The plaintiff alleges that the defendant sent her a message through a mutual friend stating[,] Can you deliver this message, "I [am] going to kill her (plaintiff) and send the kids to a foster home." Last Wednesday 8/10/2011 she observed him outside her residence in [Monmouth County] for over 15 minutes.
At the FRO hearing, both parties were represented by counsel. In her testimony, plaintiff explained that the "mutual friend" referenced in the complaint was F.G., but that F.G. would not testify because she was afraid. However, plaintiff testified that defendant had repeatedly sent the same types of messages to her through another mutual friend named A.R.
Plaintiff also testified that defendant's uninvited appearance outside her Monmouth County home on the night of August 10, 2011 was only the most recent of many such incidents, in which he would show up outside her home to spy on her. After these incidents, defendant would then emphasize to plaintiff that he had her under surveillance, by commenting to her on details he had observed within her residence. She testified that defendant lived in Brooklyn and, to her knowledge, had no reason to be in Monmouth County except to harass her. She testified that she found his conduct frightening and upsetting, and that she had repeatedly called defendant and begged him to leave her alone.
In support of her allegations, plaintiff produced testimony from A.R., a retired police detective who had worked for the parties in a business the parties owned together. He testified that he considered himself a friend of both parties. According to A.R., he had witnessed numerous conflicts between the parties at work, sometimes physically interposing himself between them to prevent the conflict from escalating. He could not testify as to most of what they said to each ...