On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Morris County, Docket Number FM-14-134-05.
Before Judges Wefing, Fall and C.S. Fisher.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Fall, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
In this international custody dispute involving application of the provisions of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), N.J.S.A. 2A:34-28 to -52, defendant Alejandra Pellerano appeals from an order entered in the Family Part on August 26, 2004, assuming jurisdiction, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-31a(2), over custody and relocation issues pertaining to her children with plaintiff Fredrick Poluhovich. The issue is whether New Jersey courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's application to modify the terms of the parties' custodial agreement that had been incorporated into a judgment of divorce entered by the courts of the Dominican Republic on March 24, 2003.
After this court denied defendant's application for emergent relief, defendant filed a motion with the Supreme Court, seeking leave to appeal from the August 26, 2004 order, and emergent relief in the form of an order finding that the Family Part lacked subject-matter custody jurisdiction. On September 8, 2004, the Supreme Court issued an order, granting defendant's motion for leave to appeal and summarily remanding the matter to this court to consider, on an accelerated basis, the issue whether the Family Part has jurisdiction to proceed in accordance with its August 26, 2004 order.
We conclude that the Family Part properly exercised"emergency jurisdiction" pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:34-31a(3) to consider plaintiff's allegations that it was necessary to protect the children because they had been subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse or had otherwise been neglected by defendant. However, upon determining that plaintiff's allegations of an"emergency" lacked merit, the Family Part was without subject-matter jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's further contention that the best interests of the children warranted modification of the existing custodial arrangement by the transfer of residential custody to him.
The following factual and procedural history is relevant to our consideration of the arguments advanced on appeal. The parties met in the Dominican Republic in 1991, while plaintiff was investigating locations for a manufacturing facility for his employer, Andin International. They became engaged in 1992 and married in December 1992. After their marriage the parties moved to New Jersey, settling in Holmdel.
Two children were born of their marriage: Fredrick Alexander Poluhovich, on October 8, 1994; and Nicole Marie Poluhovich, on October 25, 1995. The children were born in New York City while the parties were residing in Holmdel. Plaintiff, defendant, and both children are citizens of the United States by virtue of their birth here.
In 1995, plaintiff's employer asked him to relocate to the Dominican Republic to oversee the company's manufacturing-plant project. In November 1995, the parties and children moved to the Dominican Republic, where they resided in Santo Domingo. In 2000, plaintiff was asked by his employer to return to the United States to live in New York. However, in the fall of 2000, defendant informed plaintiff she wanted a divorce. The parties separated in 2001 and plaintiff relocated to New Jersey, where he has since maintained a residence. Defendant and the two children remained in the Dominican Republic. Accordingly, the children and defendant have been residents of the Dominican Republic since November 1995.
The children visited with plaintiff in New Jersey during the summer of 2001. Due to disputes between the parties, defendant did not permit the children to visit with plaintiff in New Jersey during the Christmas holiday in 2002, nor during the summer of 2002. Plaintiff would, however, periodically have parenting time with the children when he traveled to the Dominican Republic on business for his employer.
In the fall of 2003, defendant filed a divorce action against plaintiff in the Dominican Republic. On March 23, 2003, the parties entered into a written property settlement agreement in the Dominican Republic resolving all issues between them, including the issues of custody and parenting time. That agreement was incorporated into a judgment of divorce that was entered in the Civil and Commercial Chamber of the Court of
First Instance of the National District of the Dominican Republic, Magistrate Judge Robert Placencia Alvarez presiding. Both parties were represented by counsel and the court issued a judgment of divorce on March 24, 2003. Pursuant to their incorporated agreement, custody of the children was vested with defendant in the Dominican Republic and plaintiff was accorded a liberal parenting time schedule. The divorce judgment also provided, inter alia, that in the event of the death of defendant, custody of the children would automatically pass to plaintiff, and"that in any other case, such as: illness, physical disability, serious wounds, emotional collapse, among others, the [plaintiff] shall apply to the courts [of the Dominican Republic] in order to request the transfer of the custody of the children in his favor, all in consideration of the condition of father[.]" In accordance with their incorporated agreement, the children visited with plaintiff in New Jersey during the 2003 Thanksgiving holiday, for ten days in January 2004, and for ten days in April 2004.
The current jurisdictional dispute arose after the children came to New Jersey to visit with plaintiff in early June 2004. The children were scheduled to return to the Dominican Republic on August 2, 2004. On July 8, 2004, plaintiff sent the following message to defendant in the Dominican Republic by e mail transmission:
Probably the one thing that we share in common is the love for the kids. They have spent some time telling me that you have given them the choice of whether to go to live in Norway or to live with me here in New Jersey. They have told me, rather emphatically, that they have decided that they want to live here. They have asked me to take them to see schools and I have done so. The programs look very good and they have expressed to me that they really like the school and are excited to go there. There are accelerated programs for advanced children which Fredrick liked a lot especially for mathematics. Nicole was very happy to learn that the school has an orchestra and told the principal that she really wanted to learn the flute. They also asked me to show them what things there are for children in the way of after-school activities such as sports leagues, music classes, etc. and I have also accommodated their wishes and shown them what happens in the town. They again were very excited to learn about these things and to talk about participating in them. They have made many new friends here and are doing very very well. They are already enrolled in a baseball school and enjoying the classes very much. I have tested them very carefully as regards their decision and it seems that their thought process was clear and mature. They have expressed to me however that they are afraid that you might scream at them, so please try to understand that and not make them afraid. They do not want you to be disappointed in them at all and I think it would be harmful to them if they got that idea. Of course, since I understand these circumstances, I am ready to talk with you about a transition plan that works for all and ongoing communication with them, given the distances involved as I think it very important that you stay in close contact with them. I am sure that you will want to speak with them about this so you should be aware that we are actually taking our first overnight trip this coming weekend to Washington, D.C.. They have wanted to see it for a few years and we leave Sunday morning and return on Tuesday evening. During this time, I will have my cellular phone on, but I am sure that reception will be poor in the museums. I would guess that the best time to catch them would be 9 AM New York time during these days. They will be at home tomorrow except for a few hours at the pool and on Saturday we are going to a family reunion so the cell would be best again.
I look forward to speaking with you about this transition and try to work it out as smoothly as possible.
On July 16, 2004, defendant replied to plaintiff's message, also by e-mail transmission, as follows:
Hi [F]red[.] I totally agree with you when you say that we share in common the love for our children, and I would add that this love is unquestionable.
We need to remember though that we can harm people that we love. I feel that the level of conflict between us and the incapability of communication at all levels is very damaging to the children. This case is just one more in a line of many.
In order to co-parent, adults need to communicate directly and not through the children in order to shelter the children from adult conflict, and once adults have found a sound platform to work on, the kids can be brought in to express their thoughts[,] concerns and feelings, which of course are very important and need to be handled properly. I have been trying to speak to you for the last two months and have not been able to.
Sadly, I have no other choice than adopting the style of communication imposed by you, and in that scope, my response is the following:
The contents of your e-mail of the 8th of this month shows that you have been taking advantage of the stay of Nicole and Fredrick with you in order to attract them and show them schools, music programs, sports, etc., seducing them with the sweet words and promises so that, as you say in your communication, for them to have been able to have"... said, emphatically, that they have decided that they want to live with you". You forget that neither they nor you can"decide" a change of custody which we agreed to contractually and was certified by civil sentence 037-2003-0535 of 24 March 2003 handed down by the Civil and Commercial Chamber of the Court of the First Instance of the D.N., Fourth Hall, with this content:"... the holding, custody, oversight and care of the minor children, with all the legal duties and consequences [that] this implies, during and after the divorce procedures will be under the charge of the mother, Mrs. Alejandra Pellerano, who at all times must observe, with respect to her children, the excellent care of a good mother."
Abiding by the divorce agreement with respect to the summer vacations and trusting in your responsibility and integrity, I delivered the kids with the obligation that you return them personally to the country on the 2nd of August.
Mandated by the divorce sentence you and the children, the latter for lacking legal standing, cannot disregard my right of custody, which solely and could exclusively be modified by an agreement between us, which is not the case, or by a judicial sentence that revokes the existing one.
I trust that you will not commit an arbitrary illegality by not delivering the children to me on Monday, August 2nd, as agreed to.
The kids and I have agreed that once they are back with me the 2nd of August, we can take all the time in the world for them to express their thoughts and feelings as we understand that the phone is not the best way to handle this.
On July 27, 2004, plaintiff filed a verified complaint against defendant in the Family Part, seeking an order granting him sole legal and sole physical custody of the children. In his complaint, plaintiff alleged that defendant was planning to move to Gjovic, Norway with the children to take up residence with her boyfriend. He more specifically alleged in the complaint, in pertinent part:
3. Defendant is unable to properly care for the minor children, or to adequately tend to their custody, education, health, welfare or maintenance. Defendant cannot be entrusted with the role of legal or residential custodian of the minor children. The safety, happiness and welfare of the minor children require that plaintiff be given their care, custody, education and maintenance, and that plaintiff be granted sole legal and sole physical custody of the minor children by judgment of the Court.
5. It is in the best interests of the minor children that plaintiff be granted sole legal and sole physical custody of the minor children in New Jersey, that the minor children reside with plaintiff in the State of New Jersey, and that this Court have jurisdiction over all issues affecting the minor children, including but not limited to custody and support for the following reasons:
a. Since the plaintiff's relocation to New Jersey, defendant has become increasingly verbally and physically abusive of the minor children. Defendant screams at the children in such a violent manner that the children become terrified of defendant and shake in fear of her. Defendant also strikes the minor children and pulls Nicole's hair.
b. Defendant is neglectful of the children's care and well-being. Defendant leaves the children without proper adult supervision all day and late into the night. The children are prohibited from leaving the home and thus are compelled to remain in the home with only a neglectful nanny. The children's eating habits are not supervised, causing the children to be malnourished.
c. Defendant is relocating to Norway on August 10, 2004 to reside with an unrelated male. Defendant has not provided plaintiff with any information regarding her intended home or any information regarding this unrelated male with whom she intends to reside with the children. The children do not speak Norwegian. Defendant intends to enroll the children in a school where the classes are taught in Norwegian. When defendant brought the minor children to Norway in the winter of 2003, they stayed in a bedroom without heat.
d. Defendant has willfully and wrongfully withheld the minor children from plaintiff in order to extract monetary sums from plaintiff. Despite the parties' oral agreement, defendant refused to allow the children to accompany plaintiff to New Jersey for the 2001 Christmas holiday. Defendant also refused to allow the children to accompany plaintiff to New Jersey for their summer vacation in 2002, even though the parties had agreed to same. Defendant only allowed plaintiff to have the children come to the United [S]tates once he acquiesced to her demands for large sums of money.
6. Defendant is not capable of providing the minor children with a safe or healthy environment, and has continually interfered with plaintiff's custodial rights. The minor children were residents of New Jersey until 1995. The children have resided in New Jersey periodically since 2001 and have currently resided in New Jersey since June 2004. The children have doctors and a health care plan in this State, and have numerous family members and friends in this State. They and their father, the plaintiff, have a warm, loving and trusting relationship, and a deep bond. The minor children will suffer immeasurable physical and emotional harm if returned to defendant's custody. Therefore, it is in the best interests of the minor children that plaintiff be entrusted with their sole legal and sole physical custody and care in New Jersey.
Upon the filing of the verified complaint, plaintiff sought emergent relief from the Family Part in the form of an order immediately vesting custody of the children with him. In his supporting certification dated July 26, 2004, plaintiff stated, in pertinent part:
4. Recently, I have learned, and only with the assistance of a therapist, that our children, Nicole and Fredrick, would be in danger if returned to Alejandra's custody. Alejandra has a violent temper and, I have discovered, that she emotionally and physically abuses our children. Moreover, she is extremely neglectful of them, leaving them in the care of ever-changing nannies. The children have almost no adult supervision or attention of any sort when they are in Alejandra's custody. If they are returned to their mother, the children will be in danger of emotional and physical harm.
5. The children, especially Fredrick, always have been reticent to discuss... these issues. However, when they came to visit me this summer, I began to believe something was wrong. I immediately sought therapeutic help for the children. After much research and upon the recommendation of multiple pediatricians, I took the children to Dr. Michaela Schaeffer for treatment. Only through therapy have the children been able to reveal the extent of the neglect and abuse they have suffered in Alejandra's custody. This breaks my heart. I love these children more than life itself.
6. Alejandra has resided in the Dominican Republic. I frequently have business in the Dominican Republic and usually would see our children for one week every one or two months, in addition to the summer and other vacations that they spend with me. However, now Alejandra is moving with her boyfriend to live together in a remote town in Norway on August 10. She did not consult me about this move at all. She simply told me she was doing it. I know nothing about her boyfriend other than he works in the same company as Alejandra, has two children, and until recently lived in Miami, Florida. Alejandra's move would be extremely detrimental to the children. In addition, my parenting time would be drastically reduced as I do not have any opportunity to travel to Norway.
7. The children have been in my care this summer and were scheduled to return to the Dominican Republic on August 2. As the children prepared to come to New Jersey for the summer, their mother informed them and me that it would be up to them to choose where to live: Norway or New Jersey. I believed this placed an unreasonable burden on our children, who are bright and articulate, but still young. I asked Dr. Schaeffer to speak with them, and to help us sort out this residence issue. I did not wish to interfere in the children's process, and wanted them to get some therapeutic help, which they seemed to need. The children desperately want to remain in New Jersey. When the children and I informed Alejandra that they wished to remain here with me, Alejandra flew into a rage and began screaming at the children. The children became hysterical and Nicole literally trembled in fear. I believe that the children will suffer reprisals if returned to Alejandra's custody. She even threatened the children that she will come and remove them from our New Jersey home before August 2. I am truly concerned that she will forcibly remove the children, remove them from this country, and keep them from me.
41. The children are well-established in our community. Even though I am the full-time resident, I am known by many as Nicole and Fredrick's father. They have visited the town in Norway where [their] mother is moving, but are very clear with Dr. Schaeffer and me that they want to stay in New Jersey in no uncertain terms. I am proud of their thought-process and the help they have received in therapy. Respectfully, it is in their best interests to remain in the community that they know and love, with me, their father. Alejandra's abusive and neglectful behavior places them in jeopardy when they are in her care. I respectfully request the Court restrain Alejandra from removing the children from New Jersey and grant me temporary physical custody of them pending a plenary hearing on the issue of a permanent change in residential custody.
Having outlined the alleged threatened danger and harm to the children, and citing primarily to our decision in Marcrum v. Marcrum, 181 N.J. Super. 361, 365 (App. Div. 1981), the supporting brief submitted by plaintiff to the Family Part requested that the court exercise emergency jurisdiction pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-31a(3),"to ensure the safety of the children."
The request for entry of a temporary order of custody was presented to the Family Part by plaintiff, ex parte, on July 28, 2004. The following colloquy occurred between the judge and plaintiff's counsel on the issue of jurisdiction:
THE COURT: Now, I read your letter memorandum.
THE COURT: Which talks about the issue of jurisdiction primarily, right?
COUNSEL: Emergent jurisdiction.
THE COURT: Emergency jurisdiction. Now, this is not obviously a matter under the JCC --what is it the --
COUNSEL: It is actually a UCCJA. It defaults to UCCJA because the children -- Dominican Republic is not a signatory [of the Hague Convention], but New Jersey follows a UCCJA in those circumstances.
THE COURT: Yes. But I mean the UCCJA would be sort of -- we have the uniform law among the states; right? It's a --
COUNSEL: Oh, no. But they interpret state as also a foreign country. That is the law that guides us here.
THE COURT: So I should use that template in dealing with an international case like this.
COUNSEL: Yes. That's our understanding.
THE COURT: With an entity that does not subscribe to the Hague Convention.
COUNSEL: That is correct. That is correct. Both for emergency jurisdiction and what we will later discuss with Your Honor, hopefully if Your Honor enters this order to show cause, for ongoing jurisdiction.
THE COURT: Why didn't you notify the defendant of this application.
COUNSEL: We did not notify the defendant specifically after we heard that she had threatened to come remove the children from the State prior to August 2. We don't know what would potentially happen here with the children. And giving her notice we were afraid would motivate her to come and remove the children from the State. And then we'd be in dire trouble.
After ruling that he would enter an order of temporary custody, the judge stated, in pertinent part:
I didn't specifically address the jurisdiction issues, however, there is, as I said earlier, the plaintiff has filed with the court a brief noting that the court has emergent jurisdiction pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-31a(3), which provides, among other things, that... when a child is physically present in the State and, quote,"it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because he has been subjected or threatened with mistreatment or abuse or is otherwise neglected, the court has jurisdiction."
There is an inherent concept that the courts of this State in the interest of children, their best interest, may exercise jurisdiction when the safety and welfare of children are in jeopardy. And the plaintiff has cited several cases to support that broad and seminal concept.
The court accepts that concept at this stage. And so it's under that basis that I enter this order.
The judge then issued an"Order To Show Cause With Emergent Relief" on July 28, 2004, that granted plaintiff temporary physical and legal custody of the children, and restrained both parties from removing the children from New Jersey. The order set a return date for August 9, 2004, at which time defendant was to show cause why the restraints should not be continued pending a final order, and why the following relief should not be granted:
1. Setting a plenary hearing for a permanent change in residential custody of the minor children to plaintiff;
2. Holding in camera interviews of the parties' children, Nicole and Fredrick;
3. Granting plaintiff physical custody of the parties' children, Nicole and Fredrick, pending a plenary hearing;
4. Terminating plaintiff's child support obligation to defendant;
5. Compelling defendant to reimburse plaintiff within ten days the sum of $10,800, representing the funds plaintiff paid for private school in the Dominican Republic which were removed by defendant; and
6. Granting any other relief the Court deems fair and equitable.
The order also required service of the order, complaint, and all supporting papers by e-mail within three days, and provided that defendant could move to vacate the temporary restraints in the order upon two days' notice to plaintiff.
On August 6, 2004, defendant filed opposing papers to plaintiff's application. Along with her certification, defendant submitted the affidavit of the children's pediatrician in the Dominican Republic, Dr. Roberto M. Herrera, stating that the children have been his patients since November 28, 1995; that they are healthy and normal children; that defendant treated the children with kindness; and that she always attended to all of their medical needs. Dr. Herrera also submitted copies of his office records documenting many office visits and that all appropriate vaccinations had been given to the children. A similar affidavit was attached to defendant's certification from the children's dentist, Dr. Giancarlo Brache Ginebra, who outlined the regular dental care received by the children and opined that the children and their mother have an excellent relationship. Also attached was the affidavit of Dr. Nelia Abreau de Rojas, the children's nutritionist, who stated that the children were doing well and that defendant"demonstrated all her interest in the well-being of the children and I appreciated her good treatment, love and dedication towards her children as exemplary." Dr. de Rojas also recounted one occasion on June 23, 2003, when plaintiff had accompanied the children to their appointment, during which"he manifested his agreement with the treatment his children were receiving and the continuation thereof during the vacations."
Defendant submitted additional documentation concerning her care and treatment of the children, including an affidavit from Fredrick's golf instructor at the Santo Domingo Country Club, who concluded that Fredrick is"a happy boy, sociable, respectful and very smart[,]" with"very good interpersonal relationships with his friends." An affidavit from Alexis Guzman, Nicole's cycling instructor, was also submitted, noting Nicole's enthusiastic participation in cycling and defendant's active participation and support of this activity for her daughter. Numerous school records of the children were also submitted by defendant, demonstrating their high academic skill, progress and achievements. In her opposing certification, defendant stated, in pertinent part:
3. What is conspicuously absent from plaintiff's certification is any objective proof of any of his allegations. There are no welfare or social service agency records of any complaints by him or anyone else regarding any problem with the children; there are no school records indicative of the children having any academic or behavioral problems; there are no police reports of any investigations or problems respecting the children and, significantly, there is no certification verifying any of plaintiff's allegations from the"child advocate" psychiatrist who he has enlisted to assist in his efforts to steal our children.
5. It is against this documented factual background which verified that Nicole and Fredrick are physically healthy, academically accomplished and socially well adjusted that plaintiff makes his absurd unsupported and unsupportable accusations of abuse, neglect, etc.
6. Plaintiff alleges that I have a violent temper and emotionally and physically abuse the children and am neglectful of them [paragraph 4 of his certification]. What is his support for these allegations? Are there DYFS reports, reports of other social service agencies; police reports; medical reports?
9. Further, if plaintiff really had input from pediatricians and therapists indicating that our children were neglected and abused would not those health professionals been compelled by law or their own professional ethics to make referrals to appropriate government agencies?
10. Plaintiff's certification contains an inordinate amount of rhetoric respecting our marriage, negotiations in our divorce, his purported rights in a Dominican Republic divorce, legal advice he received and other irrelevant information. My understanding of this litigation is that the New Jersey Court must make only one decision - is there sufficient credible evidence to determine that Nicole and Fredrick are in imminent danger such that this Court should seize emergent jurisdiction over this matter. Allegations by plaintiff of any other subject matter is completely irrelevant and should be disregarded by the Court. Accordingly, my silence respecting many of plaintiff's allegations should not be misconstrued as acquiescence to his allegations. I simply will not dignify many of the lies and deliberate misrepresentations plaintiff has made for the purpose of distracting the Court from the fact that his application is meritless and his allegations of abuse and neglect are unfounded.
24. I reviewed an E-mail sent to the Court from plaintiff's attorney indicating that Dr. Schaeffer would not submit a Certification to the Court. I took it upon myself to speak with Dr. Schaeffer and confirmed with her directly that she will not support plaintiff's allegations either by Certification or appearance in Court. Without any statements from an independent objective source plaintiff's allegations are nothing more than unsupported hearsay.
25. Attached hereto as Exhibit L is a copy of the Mother's Day card Fredrick gave to me in May. On the third page of the card Frederick wrote to me:"... I love you. You take care of me and you don't let people hurt me and you do not let nobody scare me when I'm scared you take it away." This content is interesting in light of plaintiff's paragraph 25 where he alleges that"Fredrick has stated that he does his best not to displease [me] so that he will not be yelled at or hit... Fredrick still has problems discussing the abuse he has suffered."
26. In his own hand Fredrick praises me for protecting him while his father alleges he is afraid of me. I will leave it to the Court to assess the credibility of plaintiff's accusations in this regard.
Defendant further explained that she had met Christian, her fiancé, while working in a multinational Norwegian company, while he was heading the company's Latin American activities and living in Miami, Florida. She stated that Christian had been required to move to Gjovik, Norway to take a position at the company's headquarters. Defendant asserted that she had gradually introduced the children to Christian, that they like him, and"understand clearly that a step father would never replace their own father." Defendant stated that discussions with the children about a potential move to Norway led to their request to visit Norway, which was done in May 2004. In further explaining the circumstances, defendant certified:
34. I personally advised plaintiff about my intended travel with the children to Norway as far back as Thanksgiving 2003. He was non-responsive about the issue.
35. I provide this information about Norway and my plans to marry and relocate to the Court not because I ask for a determination as to whether the children may move with me to Norway, as I believe the New Jersey Court lacks the jurisdiction to do so, but rather to refute plaintiff's malicious inferences that there is something secretive and nefarious about this intended relocation.
36. Plaintiff came before this Court on July 27, 2004, seeking emergent relief without providing any notice to me. He made unsupported accusations about me and my care of our children and succeed[ed] temporarily in keeping the children from me and compelling me to visit them only in his presence.
37. I have been the children's primary and more often than not their exclusive care giver. I have demonstrated herewith via independent documents and affidavits of third persons that the children are flourishing under my care.
Also on August 6, 2004, plaintiff filed a supplemental brief with the Family Part, for the first time contending that the court had jurisdiction to determine the ultimate question of custody of the children based upon application of the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:34-31a(2), asserting that the children and plaintiff have significant connections with New Jersey. Plaintiff outlined numerous facts that he contended established that the children have a significant connection with New Jersey, as follows:
1. The parties' son, Fredrick, is an American citizen, born in New York City.
2. The parties' daughter, Nicole, is an American citizen, born in New York City.
3. The children hold United States passports.
4. Ms. Pellerano also is only a citizen of the United States, she was educated in the United States and Canada.
5. Mr. Poluhovich is an American citizen.
6. Mr. Poluhovich holds a United States passport.
7. Mr. Poluhovich has been a resident of New Jersey since 2001. He was born in New Jersey and has lived in this state for all but seven years of his life.
8. Mr. Poluhovich maintains medical insurance for the children through his employment here.
9. While in the Dominican Republic, the children attended an international school taught entirely in English and based on an American curriculum. All text books were in English.
10. The children have extensive family in New Jersey and neighboring Pennsylvania, including their paternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, with whom they have a close relationship.
11. The children have established numerous friendships in New Jersey, including their best ...