Microsoft word - a0126-04.doc
Cross-Respondent, v. DEBBIE CARDENAS, Defendant-Respondent/ Cross-Appellant.
respondent/cross-appellant (John A. Jones, on the
The parties were married on June 24, 1983, and divorced on
June 30, 2004. They have four emancipated children. Two
children were born of the marriage: Jimmy was born on December
14, 1983, and Richard was born on March 5, 1986. Plaintiff also
adopted two children born of defendant's prior marriage. The
parties separated in September 2002, when plaintiff James
Cardenas moved in with his parents. His complaint for divorce
was filed on June 28, 2002, and defendant Debbie Cardenas filed
an answer and counterclaim in October 2002.
After he moved from the marital residence, plaintiff
continued to pay the first and second mortgages and other
regular monthly expenses for the marital home, which totaled
approximately $1,600 per month. In addition, he gave defendant
$200 per week for food, clothing, transportation and other
necessary expenditures for herself and the two youngest
children. When asked how he and his wife allocated domestic
responsibilities during the marriage, plaintiff testified that
he "would work" and that his wife "would take care of the house
The case was tried on nine non-consecutive days, beginning
on September 22, 2003, and concluding on May 20, 2004. At the
time of trial, plaintiff was forty-seven years old with a GED
and "a couple of law enforcement courses" at a county college.
In 1980, he became a member of the Pennsauken Police Department.
While at work in February 1985, plaintiff's patrol vehicle was
struck by a drunk driver, and he suffered a ruptured disc in his
back. He began receiving a non-taxable disability pension in
1986. After leaving the police department, he returned to work
at a family business known as Raycraft Printing. Plaintiff
testified that he received $800 per week at Raycraft, together
with the disability pension in the amount of approximately
$1,900 per month. Plaintiff is also a licensed private
investigator. But his business, known as Shadow Investigations,
did not make more than $200 in either 2001 or 2002. In the late
1980s, however, plaintiff testified that the income from Shadow
Defendant Debbie Cardenas was born on August 6, 1956. Her
formal education concluded with her graduation from high school.
During high school, she performed clerical work at a police
department. Following graduation, she worked as an assistant
bookkeeper, bookkeeper, and in a management position at a
convenience store. In 1976, defendant joined the Army Reserves
for a brief period, but she was honorably discharged due to an
undetermined medical condition. Defendant was employed at a
delicatessen when the parties met, and she was pregnant with the
parties' first child when the parties married in 1983.
During the marriage, after the children were born,
defendant was employed for short periods on a part-time basis at
a delicatessen, video store, and a toy store. According to
plaintiff, defendant was going to return to the workforce after
her pregnancies, but ultimately she decided to be a full-time
homemaker and mother. During the marriage, defendant performed
some bookkeeping and clerical tasks for Raycraft from the
marital home. Defendant testified that she went on two job
interviews shortly before she testified at trial, but was not
hired for either position. The parties dispute whether
defendant had an opportunity to engage in a grave blanket-making
According to defendant, she has suffered from kidney
problems since around the time their son Richard was born in
1986. In addition, defendant testified that during the
marriage, she had the following medical procedures performed:
cyst removals; kidney surgery; a hernia operation; a
hysterectomy; two knee surgeries; an appendectomy; and a
tonsillectomy. When she testified on May 18, 2004, defendant
indicated that her last surgery was performed about five years
At the time of trial, defendant complained of aching
muscles, swollen feet and legs, nausea, forgetfulness,
continuing problems with one kidney, as well as "problems" in
the joints of her hands. Defendant also testified that she
suffers from ulcers, Lupus, Epstein-Barr Virus, and degenerative
discs in her back resulting from an auto accident that occurred
In recent years, defendant has been prescribed a number of
medications, including the following: Oxycontin (pain); Demerol
(pain); a duragesic patch (pain); Phenergan (nausea); Zofran
(nausea); Demadex (high blood pressure); Imitrex (migraine
headache); and Lipitor (high cholesterol). According to
defendant, the medications affect her reflexes and ability to
function mentally. The parties agree that at least one
physician has expressed a desire to reduce defendant's use of
pain medications. Plaintiff believes that defendant is "over-
medicated," and that her physical problems are caused, at least
in part, by her ingestion of multiple prescription drugs.
The parties were the only witnesses to testify at the
trial. There was no medical testimony concerning defendant's
health, and the parties dispute both the extent and the causes
of her health problems. Defendant acknowledged that during the
course of the divorce proceedings, she applied for Social
Security Disability Income (SSDI), but her application was
denied. Defendant also indicated that she was appealing the
administrative decision denying her application for disability
Defendant testified that she occasionally does gardening,
shovels snow, and mows the lawn every other week during the
spring and summer. Defendant is able to drive an automobile,
and she sometimes visits flea markets, yard sales, and doll
As a result of dental problems, defendant began having her
teeth removed in 1999. Defendant testified that after all of
her teeth were removed, the dentures "just wouldn't hold," and
she had a total of eight "posts" installed in November 2001.
The installation of the posts was a preliminary procedure, prior
to the installation of false teeth. Plaintiff testified that it
would cost $2,500 to $3,000 to complete her dental work, and
that the work has not been completed due to a lack of funds.
On March 2, 2004, the court ordered the parties "to
immediately apply for a home equity loan" so that defendant
could "have the teeth put in her mouth," but this was never
accomplished. When defendant testified on May 18, 2004, she
said that she avoids social situations because of her lack of
teeth, and that she would be too embarrassed to perform a job
that involves interaction with the public.
On June 30, 2004, the court rendered an oral decision,
which was reconsidered and modified on August 13, 2004.
Plaintiff appeals from the orders entered on June 30 and August
13, 2004, and defendant cross-appeals from the same orders.
Plaintiff James Cardenas presents the following arguments
THE COURT ERRED IN MAKING ONLY LIMITED, GENERAL FINDINGS OF FACT, WHICH WERE LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT ITS ORDERS DATED 6/30/04 AND 8/13/04. POINT II THE COURT ERRED BY ORDERING DISTRIBUTION OF 50% OF THE VALUE OF PLAINTIFF'S INTEREST IN AURA GRAPHICS COMPANY, WHICH WAS ACQUIRED BY
THE COURT ERRED IN SETTING A BUYOUT FIGURE FOR THE MARITAL HOME, AT WHICH ONE PARTY COULD BUY OUT THE INTEREST OF THE OTHER,
WITHOUT FIRST SETTING A VALUE FOR THE MARITAL HOME AND OBTAINING ACCURATE PAYOFFS FOR THE DEBT SECURED BY THE HOME. POINT IV
THE COURT ERRED IN ITS DISTRIBUTION TO DEFENDANT OF 30% OF PLAINTIFF'S DISABILITY PENSION.
THE COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO MAKE FINDINGS
REQUIREMENTS OF RULE 5:3-5 PRIOR TO ORDERING PLAINTIFF TO PAY A PORTION OF DEFENDANT'S
POINT VI THE COURT ERRED IN ALTERING ITS IMPUTATION
OF INCOME AND AWARD OF ALIMONY TO DEFENDANT ON RECONSIDERATION WITHOUT MAKING FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW.
POINT VII THE COURT ERRED IN ORDERING PLAINTIFF TO PAY FOR DEFENDANT'S DENTAL WORK ON RECONSIDERATION WHEN THERE WAS NO OBLIGATION
IN THE JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE FOR PLAINTIFF TO DO SO AND THE ISSUE WAS NOT RAISED IN MOVING PAPERS.
On her cross-appeal, Debbie Cardenas presents the following
POINT I [cross-appellant's POINT VII] THE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT 50% OF
PLAINTIFF'S CREDIT CARD DEBT WAS FAMILY DEBT
AND THEREFORE SUBJECT TO EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION AND FINDING DEFENDANT'S SHARE
POINT II [cross-appellant's POINT VIII]
THE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT A "LOAN" FROM PLAINTIFF'S PARENTS TO PAY MORTGAGE
ARREARS WAS, IN FACT, A LOAN; THAT THE "LOAN" IS SUBJECT TO EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION; AND FINDING DEFENDANT'S SHARE OF THE "LOAN" TO BE 50%.
POINT III [cross-appellant's POINT IX] THE COURT ERRED IN AWARDING ONLY 30% OF
PLAINTIFF'S PENSION TO DEFENDANT BY WAY OF
POINT IV [cross-appellant's POINT X] THE COURT ERRED IN ORDERING DEFENDANT'S
GLASS COLLECTION TO BE SOLD IF THE PARTIES COULD NOT AGREE ON WHICH PIECES WERE EXEMPT FROM EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION.
POINT V [cross-appellant's POINT XI] THE COURT ERRED IN ORDERING PLAINTIFF TO PAY ONLY 50% OF DEFENDANT'S COUNSEL FEES.
POINT VI [cross-appellant's POINT XII] THE COURT ERRED WHEN IT FOUND THAT DEFENDANT HAD THE ABILITY TO WORK AND/OR TO WORK FULL TIME. POINT VII [cross-appellant's POINT XIII]
THE COURT ERRED WHEN IT ORDERED DEFENDANT TO
BRING THE MORTGAGE ON THE MARITAL HOME CURRENT WITHIN TEN DAYS OF THE DATE OF THE COURT'S ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION.
POINT VIII [cross-appellant's POINT XIV]
THE COURT ERRED WHEN IT ORDERED THE MARITAL HOME BE SOLD WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE OF THE ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION UNLESS
DEFENDANT BOUGHT OUT PLAINTIFF'S INTEREST BASED ON THE PRICE SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPH 2
OF THE FINAL JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE DATED JUNE
POINT IX [cross-appellant's POINT XV] THE COURT ERRED IN REFUSING TO ORDER THE
MAINTENANCE OF THE STATUS QUO UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE PARTIES' 2002 AND 2003 INCOME
We have carefully considered each of the issues raised by
the parties in light of the record, the briefs, and the
applicable law. We recognize, of course, that the scope of our
review is limited. A trial court's findings are binding on
appeal when supported by "adequate, substantial, credible
evidence." Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 411-12 (1998).
"[A]n appellate court should not disturb the factual findings
and legal conclusions of the trial judge unless [it is]
convinced that they are so manifestly unsupported by or
inconsistent with the competent, relevant and reasonably
credible evidence as to offend the interests of justice." Id.
at 412 (second alteration in original) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Such deference is particularly appropriate when the
evidence is mostly testimonial and involves questions of
credibility. Ibid. "Because a trial court hears the case, sees
and observes the witnesses, [and] hears them testify, it has a
better perspective than a reviewing court in evaluating the
veracity of witnesses." Ibid. (alteration in original)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Furthermore, "[b]ecause of
the family courts' special jurisdiction and expertise in family
matters, appellate courts should accord deference to family
The trial court's findings and conclusions on June 30,
Pennsauken Police Department between 1980
and 1986. He was injured on duty, which triggered a disability pension in 1986. He currently receives the sum of $1,904.72 per
Cardenas last worked early in the marriage,
part time in a video store and as a cashier at Toys-R-Us. Currently, she suffers from several medical conditions including the assertion of kidney problems, lupus, degenerative disks. She has suffered
surgery for removal of cysts, knee surgeries, major dental problems. She continues to use Demerol, Oxycontin and Imitrex. There was, however, no medical testimony presented at trial by medical experts.
their debilitating effect to Mrs. Cardenas was vigorously disputed at trial by Mr. Cardenas. There was testimony that she was able to mow the lawn and shovel the walk,
but the defendant does appear to be somewhat debilitated by one or more of these conditions. At trial, she experienced some medical difficulty.
disputed by the plaintiff. With regard to employment, she has in the recent past had an opportunity to build and market funeral
blankets at $200 per blanket. But she has testified she neither had the physical stamina nor physical health to pursue these potential forms of income.
information statements. The plaintiff's case information statement reflects that he
continued to maintain certain household expenses during their separation in 2002.
company, Raycraft Printing, in addition to his disability payments and minimal income from two previous business ventures. In
appraised, is said to be worth between $96,000, representing the township's appraisal; and $125,000, which is the parties' estimate at trial of its value.
There are currently two mortgages against the house, to the approximate payoff of $57,895. The house is in need of repairs, some cosmetic and some more substantive and structural.
plaintiff has argued that $20,000 was borrowed from his grandparents to purchase the house. The [c]ourt finds, based on
testimony, that this was a gift and was not . . . sufficiently substantiated by evidence of a loan. However, with regard to the $12,000 loan from his family to catch up on the mortgage and remove the house from
foreclosure, the [c]ourt finds that that is
a loan and it's subject to repayment. And the defendant's portion of the . . . obligation for repayment is in the amount of
the plaintiff allocated $10,000 to his hair restoration and teeth whitening, while at the same time he was unable to complete
dental work of his wife of 20 years. She appeared in court without teeth, although a portion of the prosthetics had been installed in her mouth. During the period of separation, he paid most of the household
bills and did not contribute $200 per week to her, he didn't pay for her teeth.
school graduate who, prior to marriage, had various sources of income which were
slightly above minimum wage payment. She
suffered from multiple disabilities and . . . had eight surgeries during the last 20 years. Her last surgery, though, was five years ago.
although she has testified that she sometimes does laundry, despite the broken washing machine and dryer, she has testified that she shovels snow and mows the lawn. But because of her illness and pain, she is unable to work. The [c]ourt finds that some of that illness and pain may be a function
of the deterioration of her body, others of it [is] a function of what may well be over medication.
testimony presented, that Mrs. Cardenas is capable of working and should be working
full time. Her emancipated children should
find jobs and contribute to the household. The [c]ourt shall impute to her an income of $18,000 per year and will award an alimony
payment of $250 per week on a permanent basis.
Cardenas, 30 percent of that pension will be
allocated to Mrs. Cardenas, 50 percent of his IRA will be distributed to her. Now that that pension is in pay status and we
appears clear from the testimony, that neither party can afford to refinance or pay
for the home. The [c]ourt directs that it be reconditioned and placed on the market and that the equity be distributed fifty-
benefit of an appraisal and reliance on an
assessment, the [c]ourt finds that the house is worth approximately $100,000. The [c]ourt doesn't know what the house is worth, the market will tell us what the house is worth. However, if the house can
be refinanced at the $100,000 level, then the buyout of one party to the other is $21,500. If
then the house will be sold. If they wish to buy each other out, then the party who buys the other out will pay $21,500 and, of
course, assume the mortgage. On the basis of the testimony, I don't see any financial ability of these parties to do that.
Cardenas will be permitted to retain his gun collection and all of his automobiles. Mrs. Cardenas will be permitted to retain her doll collection. The grandparents' glass
that a gift? If the parties can't figure it out, it will be valued and sold and the proceeds split fifty-fifty.
Attorneys' fees shall be paid out of the
With regard to the payment of attorneys' fees, . . . Mr. Cardenas will pay his attorney's fees and one[-]half of Mrs. Cardenas'[s] attorney's fees, which have the
net effect of him paying 75 percent of these.
On August 13, 2004, after considering the parties'
applications for reconsideration, the trial court reduced
defendant's imputed income to "that which would be imputed to a
full time, minimum wage earner, which is $10,712 a year." the
trial court also increased the alimony payment to $375 a week.
A sum that the trial court found to be "consistent with the
lifestyle, income and other financial data presented at trial."
In addition, the trial court gave plaintiff "thirty days to pay
for his wife's teeth," and it extended its order prohibiting
plaintiff "from buying lingerie for his girlfriend until he pays
We are satisfied that the trial court's findings and
conclusions regarding alimony were supported by substantial
credible evidence and do not reflect either legal error or abuse
of discretion. At the outset, we note that there were no
pendente lite support orders because plaintiff voluntarily paid
all of the household expenses totaling approximately $1,600 per
month, and he also paid defendant $200 per week. Plaintiff's
court-ordered alimony payment will be less than plaintiff paid
voluntarily, and defendant will now be required to pay taxes on
the support payments she receives. In addition, defendant is no
longer covered by plaintiff's medical insurance plan. During
the trial, defendant's attorney made the following
representation to the court based upon information provided by
during our break, Mr. Cardenas called Ms. Pontie, the lady to whom he had referred to in his testimony and she gave him the following information. That COBRA is available to Mrs. Cardenas; that the medical
portion of the coverage will be $256.01 per month; and the dental is $45 a month. She
did say that the coverage was available for 18 months, however, we're going to double check that, because it was our understanding that, after a divorce, the coverage is extended to 36 months.
We have also considered the cost of suitable housing after
the marital home is sold. Plaintiff testified that he has
looked at suitable apartments in the area, and they cost between
$1,200 and $1,600 per month. Thus, it is unreasonable to expect
that defendant's shelter expenses will be significantly reduced
of alimony is "to assist the supported
spouse in achieving a lifestyle that is reasonably comparable to
the one enjoyed while living with the supporting spouse during
the marriage." Crews v. Crews, 164 N.J. 11, 16 (2000). "The
supporting spouse's obligation is set at a level that will
maintain that standard." Innes v. Innes, 117 N.J. 496, 503
(1990) (citing Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139, 150 (1980)). "Bare
survival is not the proper standard, it is the quality of the
economic life during the marriage that determines alimony."
Hughes v. Hughes, 311 N.J. Super. 15, 31 (App. Div. 1998). A
pre-divorce support agreement voluntarily entered into by the
parties "is evidential in the matrimonial proceeding of the sum
which the parties deem appropriate" to maintain the supported
spouse, "and the court may recognize the terms of the agreement
as a basis for its award." Flicker v. Chenitz, 55 N.J. Super.
273, 286-87 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 30 N.J. 152 (1959). A
court may impute income to either spouse if that spouse is
voluntarily unemployed or underemployed without just cause.
Golian v. Golian, 344 N.J. Super. 337, 341 (App. Div. 2001).
Additionally, a spouse asserting a disability, which prevents
gainful employment, has the burden of proof. Ibid.
When reviewing an alimony award, we consider whether the
trial court's findings are supported by sufficient credible
evidence present on the record, whether the trial court failed
to consider controlling legal principles, and whether the trial
court abused its discretion. Heinl v. Heinl, 287 N.J. Super.
337, 345 (App. Div. 1996). After considering plaintiff's
arguments on this appeal, in light of the record and the
pertinent law, we conclude that the trial judge properly
exercised his discretion, Jacobitti v. Jacobitti, 135 N.J. 571,
575 (1994), and we affirm the alimony determination.
Both parties claim that the trial court erred in addressing
equitable distribution. In Rothman v. Rothman, 65 N.J. 219, 232
(1974), the Court set forth the appropriate three-step process
for equitably distributing. First, the trial court must "decide
what specific property of each spouse is eligible for
distribution." Ibid. Then, the court "must determine its value
for purposes of such distribution." Ibid. Third, the court
"must decide how such allocation can most equitably be made."
Ibid. The parties must identify the assets eligible for
distribution and then present proofs regarding the assets'
value. Sculler v. Sculler, 348 N.J. Super. 374, 380 (Ch. Div.
2001). Then, "it is up to the court" to distribute the assets
by "applying the statutory factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-
The applicable standard of review is whether the allocation
falls within a reasonable exercise of the trial judge's
discretion. See LaSala v. LaSala, 335 N.J. Super. 1, 6 (App.
Div. 2000), certif. denied, 167 N.J. 630 (2001); Borodinsky v.
Borodinsky, 162 N.J. Super. 437, 444 (App. Div. 1978). We must
"determine whether the result could reasonably have been reached
by the trial judge on the evidence, or whether it is clearly
unfair or unjustly distorted by a misconception of law or
findings of fact that are contrary to the evidence." Perkins v.
Perkins, 159 N.J. Super. 243, 247 (App. Div. 1978).
The trial court determined that the marital premises should
be sold, and the proceeds from the sale should be equally
divided. Neither party provided the trial court with an
appraisal, and the court concluded that "the market will tell us
what the house is worth." Under these circumstances, the record
does not support the calculation of a buyout figure in the
amount of $21,500. While it seems unlikely that defendant has
the financial ability to purchase plaintiff's equity in the
marital home, the order entered on August 13, 2004, allows her
to do so "at the price set forth in the court's decision."
Because the record does not support a buyout figure of $21,500,
we remand this aspect of the trial court's decision for
Our efforts to review other equitable distribution issues
and the counsel fee decision by the trial court have been
hampered by the court's failure to "find the facts and state its
conclusions of law" as required by R. 1:7-4(a). When a trial
judge fails to make factual findings and fails to correlate the
facts with relevant legal conclusions, we are obliged to remand
[F]ailure to perform the fact-finding duty "constitutes a disservice to the litigants, the attorneys and the appellate court."
Meaningful appellate review is inhibited unless the judge sets forth the reasons for his or her opinion. In the absence of
reasons, we are left to conjecture as to
what the judge may have had in mind. We do not intend to engage in such conjecture here. [Chambon v. Chambon, 238 N.J. Super. 225, 231-32 (App. Div. 1990) (quoting Curtis v. Finneran, 83 N.J. 563, 569-70 (1980)).]
As Judge Conford stated in his frequently cited article,
"[t]he essence of findings and conclusions in a contested matter
is an explanation of the judge's reasons for arriving at the
determination." Milton B. Conford, Findings of Fact and
Conclusions of Law, 92 N.J.L.J. 225 (1969); see also Schwarz v.
Schwarz, 328 N.J. Super. 275, 282 (App. Div. 2000) (noting with
respect to a trial judge's decision "that an articulation of
reasons is essential to the fair resolution of a case.").
Because of the absence of any substantive factual findings
by the trial court, we are constrained to remand the following
issues for further consideration and further factual findings:
(1) whether defendant should be responsible for any of the
credit card debts incurred by plaintiff; (2) whether the $12,000
from plaintiff's parents was a loan or a gift; (3) whether it is
necessary and appropriate to sell defendant's glass collection;
(4) whether all or a portion of plaintiff's ownership interest
in Aura Graphics is subject to equitable distribution; and (5)
whether the counsel fee award to defendant was reasonable.
Although an award of counsel fees to defendant was clearly
justified, the trial court concluded that plaintiff must pay
"one[-]half of Mrs. Cardenas'[s] attorney's fees" without any
analysis of the relevant factors. When awarding attorney's
fees, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 requires a court "to consider the
factors set forth in the court rule on counsel fees, the
financial circumstances of the parties, and the good or bad
faith of either party." Moreover, R. 5:3-5(c) requires a court
to consider, in addition to the information required to be
submitted pursuant to R. 4:42-9, the following factors:
parties; (2) the ability of the parties to pay their own fees or to contribute to the
fees of the other party; (3) the reasonableness and good faith of the positions advanced by the parties; (4) the extent of the fees incurred by both parties; (5) any fees previously awarded; (6) the
amount of fees previously paid to counsel by each party; (7) the results obtained; (8) the degree to which fees were incurred to
enforce existing orders or to compel discovery; and (9) any other factor bearing
We note that both parties have expressed their dissatisfaction
with the counsel fee award. While an allowance for counsel fees
and costs in a matrimonial case is discretionary, Williams v.
Williams, 59 N.J. 229, 233 (1971), the court must consider the
factors listed in R. 5:3-5(c). Pressler, Current N.J. Court
Rules, comment 4 on R. 5:3-5 (2006); see also Mayer v. Mayer,
180 N.J. Super. 164, 169-70 (App. Div.) (noting award of counsel
fees involves critical review of nature and extent of services
rendered, complexity and difficulty of issues determined, and
reasonableness and necessity of time spent by counsel rendering
legal services), certif. denied, 88 N.J. 494 (1981).
On occasion, in order to avoid the necessity of a remand,
an appellate court may make the necessary findings of fact
"pursuant to the constitutional grant of necessary original
jurisdiction and R. 2:10-5." Pressler, Current N.J. Court
Rules, comment 1 on R. 1:7-4 (2006). In this case, however, the
unresolved issues are interdependent and the "disposition of
some issues may well have a bearing on resolution of others."
Chen v. Chen, 297 N.J. Super. 480, 493 (App. Div. 1997); see
also Conforti v. Guliadis, 128 N.J. 318, 324 (1992) (noting the
interrelationship between support and equitable distribution).
And, of course, resolution of the financial issues has a bearing
on both the need for counsel fees and the ability to pay counsel
fees. We conclude, in these circumstances, that the general
administration of justice will be better served by requiring the
trial court to carry out its functions in the appropriate
We have considered each of the remaining contentions raised
by the parties in light of the record, the briefs, and the
applicable legal principles, and we conclude that they are
without merit and do not warrant extended discussion in a
written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A) & (E). Except as set forth
herein, the factual findings and legal conclusions of the trial
court are supported by the substantial and credible evidence in
the record. Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co. of
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for
further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
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