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Valentine v. Valentine


October 14, 2010


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hunterdon County, Docket No. FM-10-83-03.

Per curiam.


Submitted October 4, 2010

Before Judges Lisa and Sabatino.

Defendant, John Valentine, appeals from the portions of the April 24, 2009 post-judgment order denying his motion for additional parenting time with the parties' eight-year-old son. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

The parties were divorced in 2003. They share joint legal custody of their son, with plaintiff, Karin Valentine, designated as the parent of primary physical residence. Defendant's parenting time has been modified from time to time over the years. The most recent arrangement was entered into by consent on November 9, 2007, providing for parenting time on Mondays and Thursdays from after school until 5:00 p.m. and alternating weekends from 2:00 p.m. Saturday until 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

Sometime prior to April 24, 2009, defendant moved for the addition of Tuesdays and Wednesdays from after school until 5:00 p.m., and for an additional two hours on alternating weekends until Sunday at 7:00 p.m. We have not been furnished with the moving and opposing papers. Based upon defendant's brief, it appears that he alleged a change of circumstances because the son no longer required occupational therapy and defendant no longer required physical therapy. It further appears that he argued that the additional time with his son would further increase the bond between father and son and would be in the son's best interests.

In a written decision of April 24, 2009, Judge Buchsbaum rejected defendant's arguments. He found no material change in circumstances since entry of the prior order. The judge found the changed therapy schedule insignificant in light of the other significant unchanged circumstances surrounding the parenting time arrangement. The judge further found that it was not in the son's best interests to add two more days of weekday after-school visitation, which would involve a sixty-mile roundtrip each day. Finally, with respect to defendant's request to extend the weekend parenting time by two hours, the judge found that "[t]here is simply no basis for readdressing this issue."

On appeal, defendant offers no legal arguments in support of his contention that the judge committed reversible error by denying his motion, other than stating that the judge "overextended his authority" and that his request was reasonable and in the child's best interests.

As a reviewing court, we afford substantial deference to the special expertise of Family Part judges in the field of domestic relations with respect to their factual findings and the conclusions that logically flow from those findings. Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 411-13 (1998). Further, we will not interfere with discretionary determinations regarding custody and parenting time in the absence of a mistaken exercise of discretion. Abouzahr v. Matera-Abouzahr, 361 N.J. Super. 135, 157 (App. Div. 2003).

We are satisfied from our review of the record that Judge Buchsbaum correctly applied the controlling legal principles, that his factual findings were supported by adequate, substantial and credible evidence in the record (based upon the description of the motion record in the parties' briefs), and that his decision did not constitute a mistaken exercise of discretion. We affirm substantially for reasons set forth in Judge Buchsbaum's written decision of April 24, 2009. Defendant's arguments on appeal do not warrant further discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).



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