On motion transferred from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FM-07-1254-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges C.S. Fisher and Grall.
This matter has come before us as the result of the trial judge's transfer of a motion that was filed in the Family Part by plaintiff K.M. in this pending matrimonial action. The parties are in the midst of a trial, although they have not provided sufficient clarity or detail by which we may determine the trial's current status. In any event, we assume that the procedural squabble at hand has had the unfortunate consequence of causing the trial to come grinding to a halt.
Plaintiff's motion was prompted by events that occurred in a different forum and, we assume, after the matrimonial trial was commenced. On May 4, 2007, plaintiff received written notification from the Division of Youth and Family Services (Division) that the Division had both substantiated his abuse and neglect of the children of the marriage and would include his name in the Central Abuse Registry. Plaintiff claims he timely demanded an administrative appeal of the Division's ruling.*fn1
There appears to be no dispute that the Division did not refer plaintiff's administrative appeal to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). As a result, plaintiff moved in the Family Part for an order:
1. consolidating the issues he claims should have been referred to the OAL with the pending matrimonial action;
2. directing the Division to take all necessary steps to perfect plaintiff's administrative appeal;
3. "confirming" that an earlier Appellate Division order permitted the trial judge to determine whether the children of the marriage were abused or neglected as defined by N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.9;
4. directing that any finding by the trial judge of abuse or neglect "shall be dispositive" of plaintiff's administrative appeal;
5. directing the Division to remove plaintiff's name from the Central Abuse Registry if the trial judge makes a finding that the children were not abused or neglected;
6. directing that, "irrespective" of whether the Division chooses to participate in the matter following consolidation, the Division shall be collaterally estopped from contesting the trial ...