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Likewise, there is no reported New Jersey decision that answers the question: “What is a dating relationship? Perhaps the most comprehensive set of factors is contained in Vermont's statute and includes the nature of the relationship, the length of time the relationship has existed, the frequency of interaction between the parties, and the length of time since the relationship was terminated, if applicable. Plaintiff testified that the “relationship” lasted from October 2002 until February 2003, and that the parties would go to dinner on occasion and spend time together.”The complaint in this matter was filed on February 6, 2003, and a temporary restraining order was entered on the same date. The parties, he said, also had a sexual relationship. From the perspective of plaintiff's witnesses, the relationship was far more intimate, even involving the parties sleeping together. From the perspective of the witnesses for the defendant there was no dating relationship, only a casual acquaintance between the parties, mostly at group gatherings of mutual friends.On February 24, 2003, a hearing was conducted to ascertain both whether this court had jurisdiction and whether an act of domestic violence had occurred that would then warrant a final restraining order. The conundrum in this case lies in the fact that the words “dating relationship” provoke a different “common usage” from one person to the next, and therefore any attempt to discern a universal meaning for the phrase is problematic. Plaintiff's mother stated that defendant had visited at her home with her son several times, sometimes having dinner, and that defendant was the first female friend her son had brought home to meet the family in four years.At the hearing, plaintiff was not represented by counsel, but defendant did have counsel at her side. In this case it can certainly not be said that the Act is unambiguous on its face. Plaintiff's mother also testified that she saw her son and defendant “hugged up” with his arm around her upstairs in her computer room and holding hands.The testimony of plaintiff's witnesses began on March 17, 2003, and concluded March 31, 2003. Even though plaintiff and defendant only held themselves out as a dating couple to plaintiff's family and friends, that is sufficient.
On that date plaintiff had secured counsel who brought the motion on his behalf. Also, the nature of subject matter, contextual setting, and statutes in pari materia must all be viewed together in seeking legislative intent, and the import of a particular word or phrase is controlled accordingly. In North Carolina, a dating relationship “is one wherein the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of a relationship.” See N. Defendant did not initially testify until the hearing on the merits of the domestic violence complaint.Defendant's counsel filed a brief in opposition, but did not appear for oral argument. While her testimony occurred after the hearing concerning the dating relationship, it is still fair to point out that she denied any relationship with the plaintiff.The court granted the motion principally on the basis that it felt that plaintiff, who was pro se at the time of the original hearing, did not understand the sequestration of witness process and as a pro se was not prepared to defend against the motion of defendant that argued no dating relationship existed between the parties. After examining this matter in light of the “factors” discussed above, the following findings in addition to those above are made: As exhibited above the parties had a social interpersonal bonding between them that went far beyond mere fraternization.“Victim of domestic violence” also includes any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship. A court must also be alert to such consideration, within the context of the sixth factor. Overall the plaintiff's witnesses were, in the Court's opinion after observing them and the reaction of the parties to the testimony, more credible. In fact, the court finds the parties did not hold themselves out as a dating couple in the presence of the defendant's family and immediate friends.
Thus, where the issue of whether a dating relationship exists is raised by the defendant, the court should first determine whether a dating relationship actually exists in accordance with a consideration of the factors set forth above, and thereafter proceed appropriately in accordance with its findings.