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Francis A. Varrone v. Salli K. Varrone

April 6, 2011


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Morris County, Docket No. FM-14-829-94.

Per curiam.


Submitted February 28, 2011

Before Judges Kestin and Newman.

In this post-judgment matrimonial matter, plaintiff, Francis A. Varrone, appeals from an April 16, 2010 order denying his motion for reconsideration of an earlier disposition in which he sought emancipation for the youngest of his four children. Plaintiff further sought to be relieved of sanctions imposed because he did not secure health insurance coverage for that son. He also contends that an evidentiary hearing should have been held because of factual disputes between the parties. We now affirm.

The relevant background may be summarized as follows. Plaintiff and defendant, Salli K. Varrone, were married on September 18, 1977, and divorced on April 20, 1994. Four children were born of the marriage. The three older children were emancipated.

In the Property Settlement Agreement (PSA), defendant was permitted to remain in the marital residence in lieu of receiving child support and alimony. In exchange, plaintiff was to pay for all costs associated with the marital residence, which included payment of the mortgage, property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and all of the children's expenses.

Upon the sale of the marital home, the net proceeds were to be divided equally. Plaintiff retained ownership of property in Manahawkin, New Jersey, and his interest in his accounting firm, as well as an interest in four condominium units in Montville, New Jersey. He also retained his shares of AT&T, IT&T, and Exxon stocks, which were to be "applied towards the higher education expenses of the [then-]infant children of the marriage."

Each party retained their own individual retirement accounts and their own automobiles. Defendant retained all the furniture and the furnishings in the house with a few enumerated exceptions. Also, this PSA, which was annexed to the final judgment of divorce, provided as follows:

Husband shall pay for all medical, dental and prescriptive drug expenses for the infant children of the marriage. Husband shall maintain coverage for the infant children under his major medical and hospital insurance policies, or separate policies, whichever may be most advantageous. Husband shall pay for the cost of tuition and books for the education of the infant children, including elementary school, high school, college, graduate school, trade school, vocational school and the like.

In claiming that his youngest son should be declared emancipated, plaintiff contends that he has not taken the requisite number of courses to be a full-time student, has performed poorly in the courses he has completed, and has withdrawn from certain courses. Plaintiff asserts that he should be free of further educational obligations in view of his son's attendance and performance at the college level.

Plaintiff believed that the court did not appreciate that it took his son nine semesters to graduate from a community college when it should have been completed within four semesters. At the time the motion for reconsideration was decided, his son was enrolled through Rutgers University Agricultural School in a Turf Management Program, which began on September 30, 2009, and was scheduled to be completed by December 2010. The prospect for future employment was in the golf course maintenance industry. His son was in Colorado as part of the internship component of this program and scheduled to return to New Jersey for further course requirements.

Defendant admitted that her son had not been "an exceptional student," but attributed it to his suffering from a learning disability, although he had not been tested. She certified that the son had been enrolled in school full time since 2005, except for one semester. The Rutgers Turf Management program required that the son complete 200 plus hours of "in-service field experience." It appeared that the son had been enthusiastic about employment in the field of golf course maintenance.

In addressing the issue of emancipation on the reconsideration application, Judge Catherine I. ...

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