N.B. VS. S.K. A-0898-12T4/A-0899-12T4(CONSOLIDATED)In 2002, plaintiff obtained a domestic violence final restraining order (FRO) against her husband, but agreed in 2003 to its vacation when the parties settled their matrimonial disputes; they then agreed to replace their respective FROs with mutual restraints in the divorce action. In 2012, after years during which the matrimonial restraints proved ineffectual in preventing defendant from attempting to communicate with plaintiff, plaintiff filed a domestic violence action alleging harassment when defendant repeatedly called a telephone that the matrimonial restraints barred him from calling. The trial judge excluded plaintiff's evidence of defendant's prior failures to comply with the matrimonial restraints and granted an involuntary dismissal on the ground that a violation of a matrimonial order cannot constitute an act of domestic violence. The court reversed, holding that defendant's past violations of the matrimonial restraints were relevant in that they provided an understanding of why plaintiff would be alarmed or seriously annoyed by what otherwise seemed to be innocuous communications.
In the separate but related appeal, the court affirmed the denial of plaintiff's subsequent motion to vacate the 2003 order, which vacated the original FRO, solely because plaintiff failed to seek relief within a reasonable period of time. 03/24/14