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Ward v. Ward

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 17, 2013

JULIA K. WARD, Plaintiff-Respondent/ Cross-Appellant,
v.
BRIAN T. WARD, Defendant-Appellant/ Cross-Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 5, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FM-02-1747-11.

Ehrlich, Petriello, Gudin & Plaza, P.C., attorneys for appellant/cross-respondent (Jeffrey W. Plaza, of counsel and on the briefs).

Weiner Lesniak, L.L.P., attorneys for respondent/cross-appellant (Salvatore A. Simeone, of counsel; Erlina Encarnacion, on the briefs).

Before Judges Koblitz and Accurso.

PER CURIAM

Husband Brian T. Ward appeals from the August 24, 2012 decision as amended October 15, 2012, after an eleven-day trial, awarding wife Julia K. Ward primary custody of the parties' two children and allowing her to relocate to Massachusetts. He also appeals from the November 20, 2012 denial of his motion for a stay of the removal. Julia[1] cross-appeals challenging the child support award. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm based on the thorough and comprehensive written opinions of Judge DeLorenzo.

The parties were married in 1999 and both Julia and Brian initially worked full-time. In 2000, after the birth of their older son G.W., [2] who suffered from hearing loss, [3] Julia reduced her work hours to part-time. Julia stopped working in 2002 with the birth of their second son, C.W. Julia earned approximately $90, 000 a year when she was working full-time.

Brian is employed by Hartz Mountain Industries, Inc. in Secaucus, where he has worked for roughly twenty-five years. He is an Assistant Vice President, working in the Finance Department, with a base salary of approximately $112, 000. In the recent past, he has earned approximately $150, 000 to $217, 200 depending on his bonus.

The parties moved from Hawthorne to Midland Park in 2004 so that G.W. could receive special resources. They identified the Midland Park School District as having the best resources for G.W., as it was the home district of the Bergen County Special Services Hearing Impaired Program. Both children excelled academically.

During their marriage, Julia took primary care of the children, while Brian was the breadwinner. Brian testified that Julia did ninety to ninety-five percent of the childcare. Brian was a coach and mentor in the children's sports activities.

At the end of January 2011, Julia filed for divorce. The following month Brian agreed to voluntarily remain out of the marital residence. They developed a parenting time schedule in which Brian had the children on alternating weekends, and Wednesday evenings that later turned into Wednesday overnight visits.

The parties retained Dr. David S. Gomberg, Ph.D. as a joint expert to conduct a custody/relocation evaluation. On February 15, 2012, Dr. Gomberg completed the custody evaluation and recommended that the parties share legal custody, with Julia designated as the parent of primary residence. Dr. Gomberg had no doubt that Julia was the primary caregiver for the children, citing her familial responsibilities, which included preparing meals, getting the children dressed in the morning, helping with homework, attending parent/teacher conferences, organizing the children's activities, and ...


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