Harassment and Restraining Orders in a Divorce

Hurt feelings and angry words are often a part of divorce. It is to be expected that one or both spouses are very upset when the relationship finally falls apart. These feelings can be extremely strong for one or both parties, and often lead to one person making inappropriate and hurtful comments. While this is unfortunate, it is a fairly normal part of the process. The real problem occurs when one spouse will not simply accept the state of affairs and move forward. In some of these cases, statements can turn into harassment.

New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act identifies and defines many different types of violence, and recognizes that violence does not only include physical assault. New Jersey Statute 2C:33-4(a) includes harassment as a type of domestic violence, and defines it as when one person, with a purpose to harass, causes to be made a communication anonymously, or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensive language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance of harm. In 2014, cyber-harassment was added to the statute, meaning that communication over cell phone or Facebook, for example, could be included under the definition of harassment.

If one spouse is harassing the other, it is possible for the victim spouse to request a restraining order. Such an order would likely prevent the harassing spouse from contacting the victim spouse at all, or if the parties have children, may restrict communication to certain formats and certain times. The victim spouse will need to provide proof to the court of the past incidences of harassment in order to obtain a restraining order. This proof can take the form of letters, emails, text messages, or any other written communication. Voicemails or in-person communication would also count. There are some evidentiary issues with presenting this type of evidence to the court. In cases of letters or emails, it is simple to bring copies to court in order to enter them into evidence. With text messages, you may need to screen shot your messages and print those, or if there is an overwhelming number of messages, it may be easier to pay a service to convert the messages into a document available for printing. Voicemail or voice recording should be converted to a CD when possible.

Domestic violence is a terrible situation, and we have experience in helping our clients get the protection they need. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 to talk about your case and what we can do to help you.

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