On appeal from Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, Mercer County.
Shebell, Long and Landau. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Long, J.A.D.
In this post-judgment matrimonial action, Madelyn C. Rampolla, appeals from the trial Judge's denial of her motion to relocate to Staten Island, New York with the two children from her marriage to her former husband, defendant, Ronald M. Rampolla.
The parties were married on April 13, 1980, and two children were born of the marriage: Christopher, on April 18, 1981, and Marc, on July 13, 1984. In 1988, the parties separated and they were divorced on April 4, 1989 by dual judgment. The judgment incorporated a settlement agreement which resolved all dissolution issues.
Pursuant to the agreement, the parties retained "joint legal custody of Christopher and Marc" and "shared residential custody" of the children. The parties were to exercise custodial periods of time with the children as follows:
(A) The Father shall have residential custody of Marc and Christopher during the first three (3) weekends of each month. The Mother shall have residential custody of Marc and Christopher during the fourth weekend of each month.
(B) In the event that a month has five weekends, the parents shall alternate residential custody, with the Father having the first such weekend.
(C) Marc shall be with his Father on Tuesday evenings and Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. In the event that Marc does not have school the following day, he shall remain with the Father overnight.
(D) During the period of time that Christopher is attending school the Father shall have residential custody of Christopher from Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. until Wednesday mornings and on Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. and during the summer and school vacations, on Thursday evenings until Friday mornings.
(E) During the summer and school vacations Marc shall be with the Mother from Friday morning until Friday evening.
(F) The principal abode of Marc shall be with the father and the principal abode of Christopher shall be with his mother.
(G) It is further understood that the custodial arrangements set forth in this Agreement are guides which are meant to be altered or amended in the best interests of the children.
The parties shared or alternated residential custody of the children during holidays and were entitled to "extended time with the children" during all periods of time in which the children were not attending school during the summer.
Regarding the future, the agreement stated:
It is the intention of both parents that they intend to live in as close proximity to each other in order to maximize the amount of contact that each of the children shall be able to have with their parents.
In the event that either parent seeks to relocate their residence such that the relocation will impair and frustrate the intent of the shared residential custody of the children and to preclude its implementation, then that parent shall consult with the other parent. If the parties are unable to reach a mutual agreement with regard to said relocation, either party may file an application with the Court.
In September 1991, apparently in anticipation of a move by plaintiff, defendant filed an order to show cause seeking temporary residential custody of the children and the right to enroll them in the Ewing Township school system. In his certification in support of the order, defendant indicated his desire to become the primary residential custodian of the children and asked for a probation investigation pursuant to R. 5:8-3. Plaintiff filed an order to show cause to be permitted to remove the children to reside in Staten Island and to enroll them in school there. Immediate
relief was denied but an Order for a plenary hearing on plaintiff's application for relocation and defendant's application for primary residential custody issued. A plenary hearing was ...