Significance of the Carfagno Case for NJ Restraining Orders

Carfagno Factors for NJ Restraining Orders Your ex served you with a restraining order, and now you worry about what will happen to you. To alleviate your worry, you should get helpful legal advice from an experienced restraining order lawyer. A final restraining order (FRO) is a permanent protection order for the alleged victim. The FRO terms are stringent and affect your privileges and civil liberties for a long time, if not for a lifetime. For example, you could lose your right to own a gun and even be prohibited from visiting your children in their home. In addition, you could face a jail sentence if you violate the restraining order. Violating a protection order can be as simple as texting your ex to ask a harmless question. An order restrains you from any contact with the protected party, even if they start a text conversation with you.  However, you may have options depending on the stage of your restraining order matter. If the order is only temporary and you have an upcoming hearing in New Jersey Family Court, then you can hire a skillful, aggressive attorney to litigate the case at trial. The most effective way to avoid a possible contempt charge or your ex getting you in trouble is to fight the FRO before a judge grants it, but if that is not possible, you could bring a motion to terminate the FRO.

Governing Law to Terminate a New Jersey Restraining Order

You can remove the final restraining order by the authority of New Jersey statute 2C:25-29d, which allows the Superior Court judge in the Family Part of the Chancery Division who made the order or another judge who has access to the complete record of the FRO hearing, to dissolve or modify it upon a showing of good cause. Unfortunately, the governing domestic violence law, the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, does not define “good cause.” Fortunately, when laws need clarification, the courts fill in the gap. Judicial interpretation of “good cause” established the standard for restraining order terminations in the Carfagno case (Carfagno v. Carfagno, 288 N.J.Super. 424, 672 A.2d 251 (1995)).

Carfagno Case Analysis

In the Carfagno case, the court established several factors that courts must examine to decide whether good cause exists to terminate a restraining order. The Carfagno court issued a restraining order to protect Mrs. Carfagno from her ex-husband, who repeatedly harassed and stalked her by daily telephone calls, following her, and taking her car without her consent.

After the court granted the restraining order, Mr. Carfagno violated it by contacting Mrs. Carfagno, resulting in two contempt orders. Mr. Carfagno then sought to dissolve the restraining order, asserting that he stopped contacting her after the second contempt, both parties violated the order, ending the order was in the best interests of the children, Mrs. Carfagno opposed the motion in bad faith, and the order was no longer necessary. Mrs. Carfagno claimed that she still feared for her safety and needed the protection order in place.

After affirming the purpose of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is to protect victims of domestic violence to the greatest extent possible under the law, the court set forth the standard for establishing good cause for terminating a restraining order.

Carfagno Factors for Consideration in FRO Termination Cases

Carfagno Factors Involving the Victim

The factors regarding the victim are whether they consent to terminate the protective order, still fear the defendant, and oppose the restraining order termination in good faith. These factors weed out alleged victims who want revenge or to entrap defendants. Even if a victim opposes the restraining order removal, this doesn’t necessarily preclude the defendant from having it removed. For instance, when a sufficiently long time has passed since the restraining order’s issuance, you and the plaintiff have had no contact, and you have both moved on to new locations and relationships that are not the subject of other restraining orders, a court is more likely to examine the plaintiff’s opposition to the termination more critically.

Carfagno Factors Involving the Defendant

A court posed with a motion to terminate a restraining order should also look at the history of the defendant’s restraining order violations, contempt convictions, domestic violence criminal charges, substance abuse or violent habits, age, health, counseling history, and any other restraining orders against them. In other words, the court wants to assess the defendant’s violent patterns, ability to harm the victim, and overall, the continued threat potential to the victim.

Carfagno Factors Involving the Relationship

The court also notes the current relationship between the parties, for example, whether the abuser still tries to control the victim by threats, harassment, or other methods or whether the relationship is over and the parties have moved on. When the parties are still involved in each other’s lives through children or other factors, the court may look at the threat more seriously than if the divorced parties have not had any contact for years.

If I Comply with the Restraining Order in NJ, Is this Enough to Get it Removed?

Non-contact or compliance alone cannot justify terminating a restraining order. The court in J.N. vs. S.B.  (No. A-0538-10T3 (App. Div. June 9, 2011)) declined to dissolve a restraining order despite the defendant’s compliance with the order for six years. The parties had no contact, but the plaintiff still feared the defendant, who physically abused her during their four-year relationship.

In support of his first and second motions to terminate the order, the defendant alleged his compliance with the order, the length of time with no contact between the parties, and the plaintiff’s subjective fear of further abuse. However, the Superior Court declined to dissolve the restraining order based on several Carfagno factors that established the plaintiff’s legitimate fear supporting her opposition to the termination.

The court noted that the plaintiff’s fear was not subjective but objective, given the defendant’s age and continued violence, as evidenced by two other restraining orders against him by two other women. The court also referred to his relatively young age, good health, and the fact that he lived near the plaintiff. In sum, the circumstances had not changed since the issuance of the restraining order, and the Appellate Court agreed upon the defendant’s appeal.

Entrust Your Restraining Order Termination Case to a Top NJ Lawyer

If you are interested in terminating a final restraining order in New Jersey, seeking help from a lawyer with vast experience in restraining order terminations such as ours at The Tormey Law Firm is wise.  Case law guidelines allow our well-versed attorneys to target the criteria in motions to terminate restraining orders on behalf of clients seeking to get them removed in Bergen County, Monmouth County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Essex County and other counties statewide in NJ.

Having handled thousands of cases involving restraining order termination, our attorneys can assess your circumstances considering the Carfagno factors and if possible, formulate the best approach to ensure that your motion to terminate the restraining order will succeed. You may have good cause to terminate your restraining order, but you cannot be sure until you consult a knowledgeable lawyer. Call (201)-556-1570 to talk to one now. A member of our legal team is available to provide you with a free consultation.


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