Milne v. Goldenberg

Nearly everyone who has a judge rule against them thinks that the judge got it wrong.  Why litigate if you didn’t think you were right?  Judges are human and some times they actually do get it wrong.  In those cases it is easy to get their decisions reversed, right?  After all, that’s why we have a Appellate Division, right?

Right and wrong.  That is why we have an Appellate Division.  That said, given the standards of review in family court matters (and in all appellate matters in general), if you were betting, you should bet on the house because more cases are affirmed then reversed.  Other cases are remanded, not necessarily because the judge got it wrong, but because she/he did not provide sufficient fact finding in the decision to allow for appellate review.

I have rarely seen the standards of review set forth so cogently then in the unreported (non-precedential) case of Schleiffer v. Schleiffer released on December 6, 2012, citing the recent reported case of Milne v. Goldenberg (previously discussed on this blog).

The standards on appeal, we noted was follows:

In Milne v. Goldenberg, 428 N.J. Super. 184, 197-98 (App. Div. 2012) we recently restated our commitment to the principle that the work of the Family Part will not be disturbed absent compelling circumstances:


Continue Reading The Judge Got It Wrong So Winning this Appeal Will Be Easy, Right?

An issue that has vexed us in the past is whether the rules enacted by the Supreme Court regarding parent coordinators were to be applied to all parent coordinators appointed by the Court.  In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court implemented a pilot program in four vicinages (Bergen, Morris/Sussex, Union and Middlesex) for parenting coordinators.  The link above provides the Supreme Court mandated guidelines and procedures which have also been discussed on this blog previously.

The problem arose when a parenting coordinator was appointed outside of one of those vicinages.  To my chagrin, I have heard judges state and lawyers argue that since their vicinage was outside of the pilot program, they did not have to follow the guidelines.  This was often in the context of a court improperly vesting a parent coordinator with authority which approached or could be argued to be an abdication of the judicial role. 

Finally, we have an answer to this question in the reported (precedential) case of Milne v. Goldenberg decided on September 12, 2012.  The case seems like a never ending, "war of the roses" type custody battle and also has some interesting discussion regarding the role of a Guardian ad Litem and procedures related thereto.  That said, the parent coordinate issue was addressed because the court appointed an attorney who was not on the court approved, pilot program parenting coordinator list. 

Continue Reading Finally an Answer to the Question about whether the Supreme Court Guidelines Apply to Parent Coordinators appointed in Counties Outside of the Pilot Program