In a recent opinion, a New Jersey appellate court affirmed a trial judge’s final restraining order against a spouse who was separated from her husband. This case demonstrates the importance of presenting credible evidence to corroborate your version of events when seeking a restraining order.


The Facts of the Case

In the case of H.A. v. S.M.A. (Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, Docket No. A-1631-21) Husband and Wife were separated for some time before Husband requested a restraining order against his Wife. The main event giving rise to Husband’s complaint occurred when he returned with a friend to the estranged couple’s former marital home. Wife entered the home shortly after, and the two argued.

During the argument, Wife allegedly cut Husband and his friend. Police responded to the scene, and Husband received treatment at the hospital for his injuries. Husband’s friend testified at trial, largely confirming his version of events despite minor inconsistencies. Husband further alleged that Wife called him while she was in jail and threatened to kill him.

Wife, however, denied the allegations, claiming she was shopping with family members a few hours after the time of the alleged incident. Her family confirmed this testimony, and Wife produced receipts and photographs as further proof.

After testimony from both sides, the judge found that Husband and his friend were credible witnesses, reasoning that Husband had no reason to perjure himself or injure himself that seriously on purpose. Conversely, the judge did not find Wife credible. The judge also believed her family was likely biased, as they failed to provide proof of Wife’s alibi to law enforcement prior to trial. As a result, the judge granted Husband’s motion for a permanent restraining order. Wife appealed.


The Appellate Court’s Decision

On appeal, Wife argued that the judge erred in preventing her from introducing evidence of GPS coordinates from her cellphone to prove she was not at the marital home during the time of the alleged incident. Wife further claimed that the judge’s findings of fact and conclusions of law were inadequate, and the judge did not provide any reasons why he declined to credit her testimony.

The appeals court found that Wife failed to explain her familiarity with the GPS technology in her cell phone, including its accuracy or reliability as a method of determining her location at a given time. Furthermore, even if the judge erred in excluding the GPS evidence, the error could not have produced an unjust result because the judge also made credibility findings specific to each party’s oral testimony. Therefore, the appeals court upheld the judge’s decision to exclude Wife’s evidence. Additionally, the court found that the judge explained why he chose to credit Husband’s version of events, contrary to Wife’s claim on appeal. Accordingly, the appeals court affirmed the trial judge’s decision to credit Husband’s testimony and grant Husband a permanent restraining order against Wife.


Are You Seeking a New Jersey Restraining Order?

If you or a loved one is seeking a temporary or permanent restraining order from a former spouse, contact the New Jersey firm of Scully Family Law for immediate help. At Scully Family Law, we understand the importance of feeling protected and safe during spousal disputes. The compassionate attorneys on our team possess years of experience litigating all types of family law disputes, including restraining orders. Through our dedicated representation, we will fight to make sure you and your family feel safe and secure. To discuss your case with a skilled New Jersey family law attorney, call our office for a free initial consultation at 743-462-1122. You can also reach out through our online contact form.