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R.C., N/K/A R.P v. P.J.C.*Fn1

January 9, 2013


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FM-13-198-11E.

Per curiam.


Argued December 4, 2012

Before Judges Yannotti and Hoffman.

Defendant appeals from an order entered by the Family Part on November 21, 2011, on certain post-judgment motions filed by the parties. Defendant also appeals from an order entered on February 22, 2012, denying his motion for reconsideration of the November 21, 2011 order. We affirm in part, reverse in part and remand for further proceedings.

The parties were married on July 14, 1995, and they had two children: P.J.C., Jr., who was born in January 1999; and A.R.C., who was born in September 2007. The marriage was dissolved by a judgment of divorce filed on April 28, 2011, which incorporated a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) between the parties. According to the PSA, custody and parenting time issues had been resolved by a consent order, with an attached memorandum of understanding (MOU). It appears that the parties agreed that plaintiff would be the parent of primary residential custody, and defendant would have parenting time, as spelled out in the MOU.

On September 26, 2011, defendant filed a motion in aid of litigant's rights. He alleged that plaintiff violated the PSA by allowing her "significant other" to spend nights at plaintiff's home in the presence of the children. Defendant alleged that, in doing so, plaintiff also violated the PSA by conducting herself in a manner that was not consistent with the best interests of the children.

Defendant asked the court to order counseling for himself and his son, and counseling for his daughter "as needed." He also asked the court to require plaintiff to bear the cost of the counseling, hold plaintiff in contempt, impose equitable and monetary relief, and award him counsel fees.

Plaintiff opposed defendant's motion and filed a cross-motion seeking an order requiring defendant to undergo a psychological evaluation and therapy "if recommended." She additionally sought an order requiring defendant to reimburse her for certain child-related activities, and for the cost of A.R.C.'s attendance at preschool. Plaintiff also sought an award of counsel fees.

In support of her cross-motion, plaintiff submitted a certification in which she stated, among other things, that defendant and P.J.C., Jr., who was then twelve-years-old, had "a horrible relationship" which deteriorated after the divorce. She said defendant had a "very controlling arrogant personality" and always had been disrespectful to her and "anyone he feels beneath him." According to plaintiff, P.J.C., Jr. had observed his father demonstrate that "it is acceptable to abuse and demean others and treat people poorly."

Plaintiff also stated that P.J.C., Jr. demonstrated anger and frustration with defendant prior to the divorce. She said the boy had seen defendant call her "a slut" and say that she was "sleeping with other men[.]" Before the divorce, P.J.C., Jr. began counseling with a psychologist, in an attempt to foster a better relationship with defendant, but the boy later refused to continue with the counseling.

Plaintiff stated that, after the divorce, she hoped P.J.C., Jr.'s feelings about defendant would change for the better and they could "all move forward in a positive direction." However, defendant's behavior did not improve, and the children witnessed defendant's anger. Plaintiff claimed that P.J.C., Jr.'s time with defendant was "always stressful" and he began to demonstrate even more anger and resentment towards defendant.

Plaintiff additionally stated that she thought it would be inappropriate to require P.J.C., Jr. to engage in therapy until defendant first received a professional, psychological evaluation and "help" so that he could understand his own emotions and inability to effectively co-parent the children. Plaintiff asserted that she did not see any value in having the parties attend therapy until defendant gets "mental help[.]"

Plaintiff also addressed her claim for reimbursement for certain costs she had incurred for the children. Plaintiff stated that, under the PSA, the parties were required to share the costs of "mutually agreeable extracurricular" activities. The PSA also provided that the parties may not "unreasonably withhold" consent to such activities. Plaintiff said that defendant had not consented to the extracurricular activities and failed to pay his share of these costs. Plaintiff sought reimbursement for the cost of the children's attendance at dance classes, basketball camp, and religious education.

Plaintiff also sought reimbursement for the cost of A.R.C.'s attendance at a private preschool three half-days each week, which would change to full-time status in the fall 2011. According to plaintiff, defendant had not paid his share of these expenses, as required by the PSA. She asked the court to order defendant to pay his share of the past-due tuition for the preschool immediately. She additionally asked the ...

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