NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted August 21, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Morris County, Docket No. FV-14-0137-13.
Santo J. Bonanno, attorney for appellant.
Respondent has not filed a brief.
Before Judges Waugh and Haas.
Defendant M.N. appeals the Family Part's August 14, 2012 final domestic violence restraining order (FRO) in favor of his wife, plaintiff E.B. We remand for reconsideration and articulation of reasons.
We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.
The parties began living together in July 2005 and were married in February 2008. They have a son, who was born in June 2008. According to E.B., she and M.N. started a trucking company together in 2006. M.N. asserts that he started the company.
E.B. filed for divorce in February 2012. The complaint was served in May, but M.N. may have been aware of the filing prior to service of the complaint. Although there had been a brief separation, the parties were living together at the time the divorce action was filed and continued to do so until the commencement of the present action.
On July 29, E.B. sought and received a temporary restraining order (TRO) pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (DV Act), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. She alleged that M.N. had made terroristic threats against her in a text message. See N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3(a). Her complaint referred to a prior incident of domestic violence in 2011, which involved allegations of threats and physical assault. The 2011 complaint had been withdrawn by E.B. prior to a hearing on the merits.
The trial took place over two days, August 7 and 14, 2012. Both parties were represented by counsel at that time. On the first day, prior to the start of the trial, E.B.'s attorney moved to amend the DV complaint to add a claim that M.N.'s conduct also constituted harassment. See N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4. The judge permitted the amendment over M.N.'s objection.
E.B. testified on the first day of trial. She described a series of threats from M.N. delivered in person and by text message. She also testified that M.N. limited her access to money. M.N. testified on the second day. He denied E.B.'s allegations that he threatened her or deprived her of financial resources. ...