On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Sussex County, Docket No. FM-19-31-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Alvarez.
Plaintiff Carol Marinaro appeals from the January 21, 2009 order of the Final Judgment of Divorce which (1) awarded defendant David Marinaro permanent alimony; (2) denied plaintiff's request that defendant David Marinaro contribute to their daughter's college expenses and; (3) denied her request to delay the sale of the marital residence until 2011. We have carefully considered plaintiff's arguments in light of the record and applicable law, and we affirm.*fn1
Plaintiff and defendant were married on November 30, 1985. The marriage produced two children, who were nineteen and sixteen years old when the divorce decree was entered. Plaintiff was employed as a school nurse earning approximately $50,000 per annum. Defendant was self-employed as a landscaper throughout the course of the marriage, earning a varying amount yearly. Defendant ceased his landscaping business due to a back injury which precludes him from continuing manual labor associated with employment in the landscaping field; he took a job as a custodian at Picatinny Arsenal, where the court found he earned $29,348 gross per annum.
The Judgment of Divorce directs plaintiff to pay defendant permanent alimony of $175 per week, and directs defendant to pay plaintiff $191 per week in child support for the two children of the marriage. The difference of $16 per week between child support and alimony was ordered to be paid by defendant through the Sussex County Probation Department. The judgment also compels the sale of the marital residence and directs that the proceeds be divided equally, subject to plaintiff's right to buy defendant's interest in the home.
In this appeal, plaintiff raises the following arguments:
POINT I: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST THAT DEFENDANT CONTRIBUTE TO THE COST OF THEIR DAUGHTER'S COLLEGE EDUCATION EXPENSES.
POINT II: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN AWARDING DEFENDANT PERMANENT ALIMONY.
POINT III: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST TO DEFER THE SALE AND/OR BUYOUT OF DEFENDANT'S INTEREST IN THE MARITAL RESIDENCE UNTIL 2011 WHEN THE PARTIES' DAUGHTER [C.M.] GRADUATES HIGH SCHOOL.
Our review of a trial court's fact-finding function is limited. Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 411 (1998). "The general rule is that findings by the trial court are binding on appeal when supported by adequate, substantial, credible evidence." Id. at 411-12. Moreover, "[b]ecause of the family courts' special jurisdiction and expertise in family matters, appellate courts should accord deference to family court fact-finding." Id. at 413. Where our review addresses questions of law, a trial judge's findings "are not entitled to that same degree of deference if they are based upon a misunderstanding of the applicable legal principles." N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. Z.P.R., 351 N.J. Super. 427, 434 (App. Div. 2002) (citing Manalapan Realty, L.P. v. Twp. Comm. of Manalapan, 140 N.J. 366, 378 (1995)). Considering these standards, our analysis continues.
First, plaintiff asserts that the trial court erred in denying her request that defendant contribute to the cost of their daughter's ...