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Haddad v. Haddad

August 19, 2008

ELIZABETH B. HADDAD, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LOUIS HADDAD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FM-13-1910-03.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 13, 2008

Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Sabatino.

Defendant Louis Haddad ("the ex-husband") appeals various aspects of a post-judgment order that the Family Part entered in this matrimonial case on September 7, 2007. His appeal is opposed by plaintiff Elizabeth B. Haddad ("the ex-wife"). We affirm the challenged provisions of the order in all respects, except that we vacate paragraph four denying the ex-husband compensatory parenting time with his children, and we remand for further proceedings on that discrete issue.

The parties, who are the parents of seven daughters, have a protracted history of disputes and litigation in connection with their divorce, which was finalized after a lengthy trial through a judgment of divorce ("JOD") issued on December 20, 2006, accompanied by a 110-page trial court opinion. The ex-husband appealed from that JOD, which we recently affirmed in April 2008. See Haddad v. Haddad, No. A-2805-06T3 (App. Div. April 11, 2008). We shall not repeat the lengthy chronology of the divorce here, but instead incorporate by reference the details set forth in our April 2008 opinion and the trial court's underlying December 2006 opinion.

Following the entry of the JOD, the ex-husband filed motions with the Family Part in August 2007 seeking an audit of his child support account, a modification of his extensive arrearages, modifications concerning parenting time and custody, and other assorted forms of relief, including the incarceration of the ex-wife for alleged willful violations of the court-ordered visitation schedule. The ex-wife opposed most of the relief sought by the ex-husband, except that she consented to an audit of the child support account. She also cross-moved for a modification of the visitation schedule, a health insurance card, counsel fees, and various forms of enforcement of the exhusband's support obligations, including a renewed bench warrant for his arrest.*fn1

The post-judgment motions were referred to the same judge who had presided over the divorce trial. After considering the parties' respective positions, the judge issued a detailed seventeen-paragraph order on September 7, 2007. The order (1) denied the ex-husband's application to find the ex-wife in violation of his litigant's rights; (2) denied his request to hold the ex-wife in contempt of a March 24, 2006 order; (3) denied his request for the immediate return of several of the children from New York State to Monmouth County, New Jersey; (4) denied his request for compensatory parenting time; (5) denied his request for joint physical custody of all of the children; (6) denied his request for $10,000 in economic sanctions; (7) denied his request for a bench warrant against the ex-wife; (8) granted, with the consent of both parties, the requested audit of the support account by the Probation Department; (9) denied a downward reduction in the ex-husband's arrears pending the audit calculations; (10) denied as moot the ex-wife's request for an additional bench warrant against the ex-husband; (11) denied, without prejudice, pending the audit, the ex-wife's application to fix arrears; (12) granted the ex-wife's request to prohibit the ex-husband from interfering with a bank account held jointly by the ex-wife and one of the children; (13) granted the exwife's request to prohibit the ex-husband from arranging to have mail for her redirected to his address; (14) denied, without prejudice, modification of the children's visitation schedule; (15) granted the ex-wife counsel fees; (16) compelled the ex-husband to provide the ex-wife with health insurance cards; and (17) compelled the ex-husband to advise the children's health insurer that the ex-wife is authorized to discuss with the insurer their coverage matters. The court subsequently issued an order on November 13, 2007 specifically awarding the ex-wife the sum of $2,280 in counsel fees and costs associated with the post-judgment motion practice.

In his present appeal, the ex-husband raises the following arguments:

POINT A

THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION, IN FA[I]LING TO DECLARE THAT PLAINTIFF VIOLATED LITIGANTS RIGHTS, WAS IN CONTEMPT OF THE VISITATION ORDER, IN DENYING RETURN OF THE CHILDREN TO THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, IN FAILING TO AWARD COMPENSATORY VISITATION TIME TO THE DEFENDANT, IN FAILING TO AWARD JOINT PHYSICAL CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN, IN FAILING TO AWARD DEFENDANT MONETARY DAMAGES AGAINST THE PLAINTIFF, AND IN FAILING TO ISSUE A BENCH WARRANT AGAINST THE PLAINTIFF FOR HER IMMEDIATE INCARCERATION FOR HER WILLFUL AND WANTON VIOLATION OF THE VISITATION ORDER OF THE COURT.

POINT B

THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN AWARDING COUNSEL FEES TO PLAINTIFF.

Having considered these arguments, the ex-wife's opposing contentions, the record as a whole (including our recent April 2008 opinion), and the applicable law, we conclude that, with one limited exception, the issues raised on appeal lack sufficient merit to warrant discussion in this opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We comment only on the singular issue that should be reconsidered by the trial court: whether the ex-husband ...


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