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Specian v. Specian

June 29, 2007

JOANNE SPECIAN, PLAINTITF-APPELLANT,
v.
THOMAS SPECIAN, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Somerset County, FM-18-984-05.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 18, 2007

Before Judges Lefelt and Sapp-Peterson.

In this post-judgment matrimonial matter, plaintiff Joanne Specian appeals from the entry of a post-judgment order denying her application to remove and relocate the parties' minor children from New Jersey to the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania and also denying her application to sell the marital residence. We affirm.

The parties were married on January 1, 1980. Five children ranging in age from twenty-three to fifteen were born to the couple. All the children resided with plaintiff at the time of the divorce. When the parties separated, defendant moved to his parents' home located adjacent to the marital home. The backyards of the two homes faced each other. The separation was not amicable, as defendant was involved in an extramarital affair that plaintiff discovered prior to the separation. Plaintiff was unsuccessful in her efforts at reconciliation. Although prior to the separation, defendant enjoyed a close relationship with all of his children, plaintiff told the older children about the extramarital affair, which affected their relationship with defendant.

Custody of the unemancipated children was contested during the trial, and a custody evaluation was conducted by Marcy Pasternak, Ph.D. Plaintiff discussed with Dr. Pasternak her plans to relocate to Pennsylvania for a myriad of reasons, including the difficulty she and the children were having with defendant living so close to the marital home, her opinion that Pennsylvania would not be as costly, and that the school system would be better than the Bound Brook school district. At trial, however, plaintiff withdrew her request to relocate.

Ultimately, the parties stipulated and agreed to share joint legal custody of the minor children with shared parenting time:

j. The parties shall have joint legal custody of the children with shared parenting time. By way of parenting time schedule:

i. On a rotating weeks basis, in week I, defendant shall have [the three younger children] from Thursday at 6:00 p.m[.] through Monday at the start of school or the time school would start if it was in session; plaintiff shall have the children the rest of the time. In week II, defendant shall have the children from Sunday at 6:00 p[.]m[.] to Monday at 9:30 p[.]m[.]

ii. The parties shall alternate and rotate the following holidays: Presidents Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Columbus Day. They shall start with plaintiff having Labor Day 2005.

iii. Plaintiff shall have the children every Christmas Day from midnight to Dec. 26th at 6:00 p.m. Defendant shall have the children every December 24th from morning until midnight; he shall also have them every December 26th from 6:00 p.m., until December 31st at 6:00 p.m. Plaintiff shall then have the children on New Year's Eve and Day, and then the regular schedule shall resume.

The Final Judgment of Divorce (FJD) was entered on January 9, 2006. Less than six months later, plaintiff filed a motion seeking to sell the marital home and requesting permission to remove the unemancipated children to the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania.

In support of the application, plaintiff alleged that the Pennsylvania school system was superior to the Bound Brook school district. Defendant cross-moved for an order restraining plaintiff from relocating outside of New Jersey and seeking a transfer of residential custody in the event plaintiff relocated to Pennsylvania. Defendant argued that the issue was more than ...


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