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T.P. v. B.P.

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

December 21, 2018

T.P.
v.
B.P.

          Argued: September 27, 2018

          9th Circuit Court-Manchester Family Division.

          Sturm Law, PLLC, of Milford (Sheila J. Sturm on the brief and orally), for the plaintiff.

          Smith-Weiss Shepard, P.C., of Nashua (Tanya L. Spony on the brief and orally), for the defendant.

          HICKS, J.

         The plaintiff, T.P., appeals the decision of the Circuit Court (Chabot, J.) denying her motion to extend her domestic violence final order of protection against the defendant, B.P. See RSA 173-B:5, VI (2014). We affirm.

         The following facts are derived from the record submitted on appeal. In August 2015, the trial court granted the plaintiff a domestic violence temporary order of protection against the defendant. On December 17, 2015, the trial court issued a final order of protection effective from December 15, 2015, to December 15, 2016.

          Almost a year later, the plaintiff timely sought an extension of the final order. On November 11, 2016, the trial court temporarily extended the final order until December 15, 2017. The November 2016 order stated that, if the defendant objected, he was entitled to a hearing and that, "[a]t such hearing, the Court may . . . reaffirm, modify or vacate this extension order." Thereafter, the defendant timely objected and a hearing was held. The trial court subsequently issued a narrative order on January 27, 2017, finding that the plaintiff had "met her burden to establish good cause to support the extension of the Restraining Order for an additional year."

         A year later, believing that the restraining order had been extended to January 27, 2018, the plaintiff filed for a five-year extension of the order on January 19. The defendant objected, arguing that the plaintiff "failed to timely file her request for an extension under RSA 173-B" and that she could not "seek extension of a restraining order that [had] expired 35 days prior to her request." The defendant contended that the January 2017 narrative order "simply confirmed the extension until December 15, 2017."

         Subsequently, the trial court denied the plaintiff's request for relief, stating:

Notwithstanding Plaintiff's arguments, the Court interprets "good cause to support the extension" of the 12/15/2016 Order, as synonymous with "reaffirm" the [November 2016 order]. Under the 11/21/2016 Order . . ., the extension was granted to 12/15/2017. Absent definitive statutory language to the contrary, the Court respectfully denies Plaintiff's 1/19/2018 Motion for Extension.

Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a motion to reconsider, which the court denied. This appeal followed.

         The central question before us is whether RSA 173-B:5, VI sets forth a deadline by which a plaintiff must file a motion to extend a final order of protection. Statutory interpretation is a question of law, which we review de novo. Hogan v. Pat's Peak Skiing, LLC, 168 N.H. 71, 73 (2015). In matters of statutory interpretation, we are the final arbiter of the intent of the legislature as expressed in the words of the statute considered as a whole. Id. We first look to the language of the statute itself, and, if possible, construe the language according to its plain and ordinary meaning. Id. We interpret legislative intent from the statute as written and will not consider what the legislature might have said or add language that the legislature did not see fit to include. Id. Moreover, we do not consider words and phrases in isolation, but rather ...


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