On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FM-13-1910-03.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Graves, Sabatino and Alvarez.
In this divorce action, defendant Louis Haddad appeals from a judgment of divorce (JOD) dated December 20, 2006. The parties were married in 1983. They have seven children----all daughters. As noted by the trial court, the parties "contested virtually everything" including custody of the five youngest children, child support, alimony, equitable distribution, counsel fees, and whether plaintiff, Elizabeth Haddad, would be permitted to permanently relocate with the children to an area near Syracuse, New York, if she was awarded custody. The divorce trial took place on eleven non-consecutive days, beginning on May 15, 2006, and ending on August 15, 2006.
On December 20, 2006, the trial court set forth its findings and conclusions in a 110-page written decision, and the court entered a JOD on the grounds of "an eighteen (18) month separation and extreme cruelty." The JOD also: (1) granted plaintiff sole custody of the five youngest children currently ranging in ages from seven to twenty-one, found that the oldest child, born July 27, 1986, was "emancipated subject to her return to college," and awarded the parties joint custody of the second oldest child, born November 30, 1988; (2) permitted plaintiff "to permanently relocate to an area near Syracuse, New York," and allowed parenting time for defendant twice a month; (3) equitably distributed the marital estate in the total amount of $1,413,629 with plaintiff receiving sixty percent ($848,178), and defendant receiving forty percent ($565,451); (4) awarded plaintiff attorney's fees "in the amount of $68,728, which is 65% of her attorney's billings"; (5) ordered defendant to pay $6,000 a month in permanent alimony, and five years of rehabilitative alimony in the amount of $2,000 per year; (6) ordered defendant to pay $2,247 a month in basic child support, and $750 a month as additional child support to be placed in a separate fund to be maintained by plaintiff for the children's college education, to which plaintiff must also contribute $250 a month; and (7) required defendant to obtain medical insurance for his unemancipated children, a life insurance policy in the amount of $150,000 for each unemancipated child, and a $500,000 life insurance policy for the benefit of plaintiff.
Recognizing the likelihood "that this case will have a long exposure in the courts well after this decision is rendered," the trial court set forth its findings and conclusions in a comprehensive decision. The court's decision provides background information on the parties' marriage, the procedural history of the case, defendant's abuse of alcohol, and it thoroughly analyzes each of the disputed issues.
On appeal, defendant presents the following arguments:
THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN GRANTING THE JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE BASED UPON EIGHTEEN MONTH SEPARATION AND EXTREME CRUELTY.
THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN AWARDING SOLE CUSTODY OF THE FIVE YOUNGEST CHILDREN TO THE PLAINTIFF.
THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN PERMITTING PLAINTIFF TO PERMANENTLY RELOCATE WITH THE FIVE YOUNGEST CHILDREN, AND IN FAILING ...