R.G. and R.G. - Violence Between Siblings

All parents know that siblings will squabble. Normal sibling conflict is simply a normal part of every day family life, and something that parents are very used to dealing with. Even some level of physical fighting is typical, especially between very young children who have not yet learned to handle and properly express their emotions. When children get older, the fighting usually takes a turn to mainly verbal. In the event that it does not, there could possibly be serious repercussions. Domestic violence statutes in New Jersey do not only apply to spouses or those that are in a dating relationship. Anyone in a familial relationship can who live together fall under the domestic violence laws.

The case of R.G. v. R.G. addresses a case of domestic violence between brothers. In that case, adult brothers got in a dispute over how to care for their aging parents. The plaintiff had put the brothers’ aging mother in a nursing home. The defendant disagreed with this decision for a multitude of reasons. There were many text messages back and forth between the brothers, most of which were vitriolic and profanity laden. This argument came to a head when the brothers got into an argument at the mother’s nursing home. Their argument started as a verbal disagreement, but when the nursing staff forced the brothers to leave, their dispute continued in the parking lot. The defendant shoved the plaintiff six times, forcing him to fall twice. The plaintiff requested a restraining order under the New Jersey domestic violence statutes. The trial court granted the request, but the Appellate Court reversed. The Appellate Court noted that the trial court had, in part, based its decision on the fact that the defendant’s son also had a restraining order against him for a completely separate incident. It ruled that this was irrelevant and inadmissible to prove that the plaintiff in this case required a restraining order. The court went on to note that both the plaintiff and the defendant sent hateful text messages, and the plaintiff was sometimes the instigator. The plaintiff showed no fear of the defendant, and during their altercation, had several times followed the defendant when he tried to walk away from the dispute. There was no record of plaintiff ever asking the defendant to stop sending text messages or emails. The Appellate Court determined that the defendant was not attempting to harass the plaintiff, but rather was trying to express concern for their parents. The Appellate Court found that restraining orders between brothers may very well fall under the domestic violence requirements, but not in this case. The Court found that a restraining order is not a tool to be used to prevent any type of unpleasant family interaction, but rather is to be used to prevent violence or further harassment, neither of which was an issue in this case.

Family interactions can be difficult at the best of times. We have experience in helping our clients with restraining orders. Contact us today at (732) 529-6937 for an appointment to talk about your case and the remedies available to you.
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