J.L. VS. R.G. (FM-06-0139-08, CUMBERLAND COUNTY AND STATEWIDE)

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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court ." Although it is posted on the internet, this opinion is binding only on the parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited. R. 1:36-3. SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION DOCKET NO. A-0569-20 J.L.,1 Plaintiff-Appellant, v. R.G., Defendant-Respondent. _________________________ Submitted June 9, 2021 – Decided July 14, 2021 Before Judges Whipple and Firko. On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cumberland County, Docket No. FM-06-0139-08. Brock D. Russell, attorney for appellant. Amy Smith, attorney for respondent. PER CURIAM 1 We use initials and pseudonyms to protect the parties' and the child's privacy. R. 1:38-3(d)(15). Plaintiff J.L. appeals from post-judgment Family Part orders entered on August 18, September 9, September 23, and October 16, 2020, directing her to return the parties' then seventeen-year-and-four-month-old son "John" to defendant, R.G., who resides in Virginia, sanctioning plaintiff for not doing so, and awarding counsel fees to defendant. The parties' son turned eighteen years of age in May 2021. We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part for a plenary hearing on the issue of sanctions and attorney's fees, for the reasons set forth in this opinion. I. We summarize the pertinent history of this litigation. The parties were married for five years when the court entered a final judgment of divorce on December 11, 2007, and awarded custody of John to plaintiff, subject to reasonable rights of parenting time by defendant. Eleven years later, plaintiff filed an order to show cause (OTSC) seeking to designate defendant as the parent of primary residence of John and plaintiff as the parent of alternate residence. The record reveals that in 2019, John had behavioral and academic issues, and plaintiff became overwhelmed with parenting him, while dealing with a difficult pregnancy and "the stress of the pending birth." By consent, an order was entered on February 1, 2019, transferring residential custody of John to A-0569-20 2 defendant. John moved to Virginia and lived with his father on a full-time basis, subject to parenting time with plaintiff in New Jersey. This State retained jurisdiction. After John moved to Virginia, he had disagreements with his father. John told his mother about the situation. Several times, at John's request, plaintiff drove to Virginia, but she admitted John seemed to "assimilate" in his new environment, showed improvement in his schoolwork, and "is now a changed young man" for the better. The parties agreed that John would spend some time with his mother during the summer of 2020. In June 2020, John came to New Jersey and had parenting time with his mother, which was anticipated to last until the end of July. On June 23, 2020, defendant sent plaintiff an email to "coordinate" John's return to Virginia. However, by way of an email dated July 1, 2020, plaintiff advised defendant that John wanted to live in …

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