On appeal from Superior Court, Chancery Division, Mercer County.
Michels, Pressler and Bilder. The opinion of the court was delivered by Pressler, J.A.D.
[158 NJSuper Page 340] Shirley Globman, defendant wife in this matrimonial action, has a history of serious mental illness which has for some time required her intermittent hospitalization. Since she was in fact hospitalized during much of the duration of this litigation, including trial which took place in the summer and early fall of 1975, a guardian ad litem , George Warren, Esq., was appointed to protect
her interests. The guardian ad litem appeals from those portions of the trial court's judgment denying Mrs. Globman both alimony and the right to any equitable distribution. He also appeals from the fee awarded him for his services as being grossly inadequate. Those portions of the judgment dissolving the marriage on the ground of an 18-month separation and awarding custody of the two children of the marriage to Shmuel Yaakov Globman, plaintiff husband, were entered without contest and are not before us. There is, however, an additional issue which is before us and that is the question of visitation by the children's maternal grandparents, Israel and Rosalind Lev, who are parties to this action by reason of an oral amendment to the complaint allowed at their request after trial commenced. Their sole interest in the action is their right of visitation and they appeal from that portion of the judgment denying them visitation.
The history of this marriage is permeated by the tragedy of Mrs. Globman's illness and its effect on the other family members, culminating in the hostility between her parents and husband and placing the two young children at the very vortex of this family misfortune. The Globmans were married in 1964. Their older daughter, Chava, was born in 1966 and the younger daughter, Etta, in 1970. They lived together in Philadelphia until early 1971, when Mrs. Globman took up residence in her parents' Trenton home with Etta, then about six months old. Mr. Globman remained in Philadelphia with the elder girl. Because of Mrs. Globman's various voluntary hospitalizations in Trenton Psychiatric Hospital after the separation, Etta was in the actual custody of and being raised by her maternal grandparents, the Levs, with no financial contribution to her support being made by her father. Nor, in fact, did he then or at any time thereafter, contribute materially to Mrs. Globman's support, all of whose necessaries during the periods she resided with her parents and all of whose personal needs during the periods of her hospitalization, including
the provision of Kosher food, were furnished by the Levs.*fn1 In early 1975 Mr. Globman removed Etta from her grandparents and has since that time retained custody of both girls.
We deal first with the financial matters. Mrs. Globman is without assets or income and by reason of her psychiatric condition it is unlikely that she can be anticipated to be self-supporting. Her support is therefore a matter of public charge, with such supplements as her parents are able and willing to furnish. Her father, Israel Lev, is an Orthodox rabbi at the head of his own congregation and employed by the State as a chaplain in several of its institutions, including Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. Mrs. Lev is employed by the Division of Youth and Family Services. Mr. Globman is a Social Studies teacher employed by the Philadelphia public school system at a gross salary of about $16,000 annually. His employment benefits include generous medical and paramedical coverage and a $30,000 term life insurance policy of which the children are beneficiaries. For some years past, but apparently not since he has had custody of Etta, he supplemented his income by teaching at a Jewish parochial school, donating, however, his earnings from that source to charity. His assets, all acquired during the marriage, are modest, consisting largely of an inheritance from his mother which included publicly-traded securities having a value at the time of trial between $7,000 and $8,000; a one-third undivided interest in a modest income-producing property containing a store and four apartments located in a redevelopment area of Philadelphia and hence of somewhat uncertain value, but listed at $25,000 for inheritance purposes; a new car which defendant purchased for $6,000; modest securities holdings apart from the inheritance, and a small cash sum. The total value of these assets was not
determined by the trial judge but appears to be between $25,000 and $30,000.
With respect to alimony, the amount being sought for Mrs. Globman, at least while hospitalized, was minimal, the proofs indicating that the cost of providing Kosher food was approximately $15 to $20 a week and that approximately $10 a week more would cover those personal items not supplied by the hospital, such as clothing, cosmetics and canteen-type purchases.*fn2 As we have noted these expenses have been borne by Mrs. Globman's parents.*fn3 The trial court refused to award any alimony at all for the reason, as stated in its letter opinion, that "the record does not authorize an award of alimony. It does not identify defendant's needs, other than counsel's conjecture for her personal needs -- clothing, cosmetics and other essentials." Our review of the record does not, however, support that conclusion. There was uncontroverted testimony by Mrs. Globman's parents supporting the modest claims of the guardian ad litem.
All of the adults here involved are observant, committed and deeply religious Orthodox Jews. Kosher food is not provided by Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and observance of religious dietary requirements is a matter of serious religious conviction for both Mrs. Globman and her parents. We see no reason why she should do without. Her other personal needs may not have been ...