Legal News That You Can Use: The Case Of The Dad Arrested At Little League, And An Overbroad Restraining Order

When issuing a restraining order, how far can a judge go in prohibiting contact with the victim?

Restraining orders protect victims of domestic violence from further abuse. They restrict the perpetrator’s contact with the victim. They can also limit the perpetrator’s physical presence in places where the victim frequently goes.

However, these restrictions must be reasonable. For example, in one recent case, a New Jersey family judge found that a gentleman, whom we’ll call S.K., harassed his ex-wife. The judge issued a restraining order. The order prohibited S.K. from going to his ex-wife’s home or workplace. And, in court, that was everything the judge told S.K.  not to do.

However,  the written restraining order went further. The written order also banned S.K. from any other place where his ex-wife was located. That’s right: anywhere.

At some point, S.K. attended his children’s soccer game. By chance, his ex-wife was also there. She called the police. Next thing S.K. knew, he stood convicted of contempt of court. S.K. appealed, claiming that he never knew the restraining order banned him from every place his ex-wife chose to be. S.K.  further argued that the restraining order was too broad.

The appeals court agreed, ruling that the law only allows restraining orders to ban either particular locations, or particular harmful conduct. The law does not allow for a blanket restriction on attending every location the protected person may be.

When criminal charges are involved, a person deserves to know exactly  what is required. Presumably, the restraining order here would have made S.K. subject to punishment for running into his ex-wife at the supermarket, or in a department store.  That just went too far, according to the court.   

I agree. In this lousy economy, we don't want to do anything that might stop someone from shopping.


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Marc S. Berman is an attorney with offices in Fair Lawn and Paramus. You can follow him on Twitter hereDisclaimer: The articles posted here  are for informational purposes only, and are not intended as legal advice for specific cases. Readers  should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information presented here, but rather should retain an attorney to advise them.

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Denise June 23, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Restraining orders are BS. They are just a piece of paper. How many women have ended up being killed by the hand of an ex husband, although she still had "that piece of paper"......
Fan of Ridgewood July 10, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Restraining orders are given without any evidence that the man did anything wrong and is often used as a weapon in marital disputes to keep him away from his own home. It is by no means just a piece of paper. violating it is a felony.


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