Motions in Limine and Domestic Violence – L.C. v. M.A.J.

During any type of family law case, as with any other case, there are a large variety of procedural issues that must be skillfully handled to ensure that the party’s case is properly and completely presented to the court. One tool available to attorneys to accomplish this goal is called a “motion in limine.” This type of motion is one that asks that the court prevent particular pieces of evidence from being introduced at the final hearing. In a recent case, the New Jersey court was faced with the intersection of a motion in limine and a domestic violence case.

In L.C. v. M.A.J., the wife alleged that the husband has a history of violent and controlling behavior. The wife alleged in a domestic violence complaint that the husband had emailed the wife asking if she was staying home with the parties’ child who he believed was ill. The wife did not answer the email. The husband then called the child, who confirmed he was home sick. The husband then accused the wife of forcing the child to lie and also of leaving the child home without appropriate supervision. The husband then called the wife’s employer three times looking for her, giving false names. He also requested that the police conduct a welfare check on her. The wife sought and was granted a temporary restraining order against the husband. The final hearing for the restraining order was held in front of a different judge. In front of that judge on the day of the final hearing, the attorney for the husband filed a motion in limine requesting that the wife’s request for a restraining order be dismissed. The motion alleged that the wife’s domestic violence allegations were only related to parenting issues, and therefore were not harassment. The court heard argument from the parties’ attorneys and decided to dismiss the restraining order. The appellate court reversed. The appellate court noted that a motion in limine should really be used for evidentiary issues before trial and disfavored use for dismissal, especially on the eve of trial. The appellate court held that the trial court erred in dismissing the case on this type of motion. In addition, the court also noted that due process considerations required that a motion to dismiss required more notice than simply right before the hearing.

If you are facing a case involving domestic violence or complicated evidentiary issues, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 to talk about your case and what we can do to help you.
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