Case Conclusion Date: 02.03.2010
Practice Area: Family
Outcome: recedent regarding restricting access to court
Description: We represented the plaintiff for his divorce, and in this case, post-judgment litigation. On his behalf, we filed a motion seeking enforcement of the parties' divorce agreement because the ex-wife interfered with his parenting time with the children and to fix a parenting schedule for the several months. The schedule was supposed to be arrived at with the assistance of a parenting coordinator but the issuance of a domestic violence temporary restraining order against Plaitniff's ex-wife delayed that process. After the restraining order was dismissed, the parties went to the parent coordinator who made recommendations prior to the return date of the motion. Plaintiff agreed with them - he ex-wife would not state if she agreed or not, waiting to see what the court would do. The trial court denied Plaintiff's motion as moot, ordered the parties back to the parent coordinator to deal with the issues in the motion and required that the parties attend settlement conferences before filing any future motions, even enforcement motions. We appealed arguing that (1) the trial court unconstitutionally impaired plaintiff's access to the Court and (2) the court improperly abdicated its responsibility to a parent coordinator who cannot, by Supreme Court directive, address enforcement issues in any event. The Appellate Division agreed in a 2-1 decision. In doing so, they crafted new requirements before a family part litigant's access to the Court can be restricted. The court also reaffirmed that parent coordinators cannot address enforcement issues and courts cannot adbidicate decision making to parent coordinators.