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Melanie Miller F/K/A Tafaro v. Stephen Tafaro

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


January 7, 2011

MELANIE MILLER F/K/A TAFARO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
STEPHEN TAFARO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hunterdon County, Docket No. FM-10-339-03.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 19, 2010

Before Judges Graves and Waugh.

In these consolidated appeals, defendant Stephen Tafaro appeals portions of two post-judgment matrimonial orders entered by the Family Part.*fn1 We affirm.

The first order, entered on October 7, 2009, required, among other things, that Tafaro pay $16,255.25 toward college expenses for the daughter born of his now-dissolved marriage to Melanie Tafaro, now known as Melanie Miller. It also denied Tafaro's cross-motion seeking that the motion judge disqualify herself, that Miller's motion for college expenses be denied, and that he be awarded costs on his cross-motion. The second order, entered on November 30, 2009, required, among other things, that Tafaro pay Miller's attorney's fees on a prior appeal and on her applications seeking to enforce that obligation. It also denied Tafaro's cross-motion seeking reconsideration of those portions of the October 7 order that denied the motion for recusal, required Tafaro to complete certain financial aid forms, required payment of the daughter's college expenses, and denied costs on the October 7 cross-motion.

The factual background of the relationship between the parties and the issues arising out of the termination of their marriage was outlined in Tafaro's three prior appeals. Miller v. Tafaro, No. A-4469-07 (App. Div. May 12, 2009) (Tafaro III) (affirming requirement that Tafaro pay seventy-five percent of the children's college expenses); Tafaro v. Tafaro, No. A-1189-05 (App. Div. Aug. 16, 2006) (Tafaro II) (affirming (1) requirement that Tafaro pay for a parenting time coordinator, (2) denial of Tafaro's motion to remove the coordinator, (3) affirming amendment of a related final domestic violence restraining order, and (4) denying Tafaro's request that the matter be assigned to a different judge); and Tafaro v. Tafaro, No. A-4402-04 (App. Div. July 13, 2006) (slip op. at 2-4) (Tafaro I) (affirming parenting time decisions and denying request that the matter be assigned to a different judge).

In the current appeal, Tafaro seeks to revisit issues related to the requirement that he pay for the children's college expenses and the sanctions imposed with respect to his refusal to follow prior orders of the Family Part. Those prior orders were either affirmed on appeal or were not appealed. He also appeals the refusal of the judge currently assigned to this case to recuse herself.*fn2

Having reviewed the issues raised on appeal, we find them to be without merit and not warranting discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). Consequently, we affirm for the reasons stated by Judge Ann R. Bartlett in the written statements of reasons incorporated into the two orders on appeal. We add only the following.

Rule 1:12-2 provides: "Any party, on motion made to the judge before trial or argument and stating the reasons therefor, may seek that judge's disqualification." The disposition of a motion for recusal is entrusted to the "'sound discretion' of the judge whose recusal is sought." Pressler & Verniero, Current N.J. Court Rules, comment on R. 1:12-2 (2011) (citing Chandok v. Chandok, 406 N.J. Super. 595, 603 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 200 N.J. 207 (2009)); see also Magill v. Casel, 238 N.J. Super. 57, 63 (App. Div. 1990). Having reviewed the record, we find nothing to support Tafaro's assertions of judicial bias. The judge was primarily enforcing prior orders that, as we have already noted, were either affirmed on appeal or were not appealed. The mere fact that a litigant disagrees with judges' decisions when they are not in his favor is not grounds for their recusal.

Affirmed.


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