On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FM-13-759-06C.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued telephonically December 15, 2011
Before Judges Sabatino and Fasciale.
In this post-divorce matrimonial case, plaintiff-wife appeals from a September 14, 2010 order restraining her from relocating within the state, and an October 5, 2010 order establishing parenting time. We affirm.
The parties married in 1999, had three children, now between the ages of seven and twelve, and divorced in 2006. They entered into a property settlement agreement (PSA) which addressed custody and visitation. Pursuant to the PSA [Defendant] and [plaintiff] recognize that it is in the best interest of the children that the parties shall share joint legal custody, with the understanding that [plaintiff] shall be designated as the primary residential custodial parent. All major decisions concerning the children's health, safety, education, welfare and religious upbringing shall be joint and equal decisions.
The parties agreed not to "do anything which may estrange their children from the other party." Concerning visitation, the PSA provided:
[Defendant] shall have reasonable and liberal visitation privileges of the children, provided the same do not conflict with the children's school or social schedules and provided reasonable notice is given. . . . . In the event either party finds it necessary to further define and/or modify the visitation and timesharing schedule, they shall be entitled to do so through [m]ediation and ultimately through the [c]courts, if [m]ediation fails.
In February 2009, defendant's visitation with his children was temporarily interrupted by his involvement in the criminal justice system. The court then permitted defendant to gradually resume visitation, and in the fall of 2009, the judge entered an interim visitation schedule. In February 2010, defendant filed a motion to establish permanent parenting time for holidays, birthdays, and summer vacations. The judge denied the motion without prejudice and referred the parties to mediation pursuant to the PSA. Meanwhile, the parties continued to follow the visitation schedule that had been entered in the fall of 2009.
The parties unsuccessfully mediated the issue of parenting time, and they then filed separate applications leading to the two orders under review.
In August 2010, defendant moved again to establish parenting time. In September 2010, plaintiff notified defendant that she intended to move with the children from Monmouth County to Verona. Defendant immediately filed an order to show cause (OTSC) why plaintiff should not be restrained from relocating. The judge conducted a hearing at which plaintiff appeared pro se. After questioning plaintiff at the initial return date of the OTSC, the judge restrained her from relocating with the children and stated:
[T]he fact that the kids started [school] in [Monmouth County] and that's where they've been going to school, the kids are at a tender age of 6, 8 and 11. Now to pick them up and send them off to Verona when you don't even have really a good reason to go to Verona other than the fact that you have family . . . that lives in north Jersey, that you're hoping to get a job. That you have an accountant degree but you don't have any specific job lined up or for that matter, as [defendant's counsel] pointed out, you're not, it's not like a situation that you are married and you're relocating. Your request is denied and I'm going to sign an order which will prevent you from moving the children to Verona and from removing the children from the current school system[.]
Plaintiff filed a cross-motion seeking to enforce the interim parenting time schedule entered by the court in 2009, and sought reconsideration of the judge's order restraining her from moving. The judge conducted oral argument on October 5, 2010, denied plaintiff's cross-motion and her request for ...