May 23, 2008
BARBARA MITCHELL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
JONATHAN SHERER AND MICHELLE SHERER, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Somerset County, FD-18-520-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued May 13, 2008
Before Judges Coburn, Fuentes and Chambers.
Plaintiff, Barbara Mitchell, the grandmother of defendants' child appeals from a summary judgment order rejecting her claim for grandparent visitation.*fn1 After carefully considering the record and briefs, we are satisfied that all of her arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion, R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E), and we affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by the Chancery Division judge in her statement of reasons attached to the order and in her oral decision of June 8, 2007. Nevertheless, we add the following brief comments.
We may not order grandparent visitation over the objection of fit parents unless the order is required to avoid harm to the child. Moriarty v. Bradt, 177 N.J. 84, 112-15 (2003). Plaintiff does not contend that defendants are unfit parents.
Thus, under Moriarty plaintiff must make a "clear showing of . . . other extraordinary circumstances affecting the welfare of the child." Id. at 112 (quotation and citation omitted). In Daniels v. Daniels, 381 N.J. Super. 286, 294 (App. Div. 2005), we noted that there had to be "a clear and specific allegation of concrete harm" to the child. We also said that generalized predictions of harm such as the loss of potentially happy memories would not justify State intervention. Ibid.
Since the case was decided on a motion for summary judgment, we will accept that there was a close relationship between plaintiff and the child, although it clearly was not unusually close even accepting her factual allegations. The expert's report submitted on plaintiff's behalf was prepared by a psychologist who did not interview the child. His hypothetical extrapolations fail entirely to establish the specific likelihood of serious and specific psychological harm to this entirely healthy and successful child.*fn2