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Sedelmeyer v. Sedelmeyer

March 21, 1979


Krafte, J.J.D.R.C.


This matter comes before this Court by motion filed by defendant to dismiss the complaint filed pursuant to the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.1 to 30.23 (hereinafter URESA) alleging that this court lacks jurisdiction to enter the support order sought. A brief background leading to the filing of this motion will shed light on the problem.

Marlene C. Sedelmeyer, plaintiff, and Anthony J. Sedelmeyer, defendant, shared a marital abode in Pennsylvania until June 1978. Plaintiff instituted an action in the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Civil Division, seeking a divorce from the bonds of matrimony. Defendant moved to New Jersey in June 1978. On August 18, 1978 a complaint was filed by plaintiff in the Court of Common Pleas, Lancaster County, Criminal Division, pursuant to that State's URESA (62 P.S. §§ 2043-1 to 42; 42 Pa. C.S.A. §§ 6741 to 6780) seeking support from defendant for herself and the two children of the marriage. This complaint was certified by said Court of Common Pleas and forwarded to the Bergen County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for filing and procedure against defendant according to the provisions of URESA as enacted by New Jersey. The complaint was received by this court August 29, 1978.

On February 21, 1979, a motion by defendant seeking an order declaring the Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania, aforesaid, as the proper forum to determine the support obligations, was argued before this court. At that time additional facts were presented to the court to the effect that during February 1979 defendant had been transferred

by his employer to Connecticut and had taken up residence there. He has no present residential ties to New Jersey. March 7, 1979 was set as the date for presentation of arguments to the court pertaining to in personam jurisdiction of defendant in light of these new facts. Thus, the issue to be resolved is whether there is personal jurisdiction over a defendant under URESA where plaintiff filed the complaint in Pennsylvania, her residence, where the complaint was certified and transmitted to New Jersey, where the defendant was served with process in New Jersey and where defendant subsequently moved to another state, which state is also a signatory to URESA.

As heretofore stated, URESA has been adopted by Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Clear legislative intent is gleaned from the very opening statement of the act: "The purposes of this act are to improve and extend by reciprocal legislation the enforcement of duties of support and to make uniform the law with respect thereto." N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.1. The act provides a procedure whereby support for a wife or child may be easily and inexpensively obtained from a husband or father in another state without limiting the proceedings to those against an absconding husband or father. Daly v. Daly , 39 N.J. Super. 117, 125-126 (J.D.R.C. 1956), aff'd 21 N.J. 599 (1956).

Defendant has stipulated that he was personally served with process while he was present and living in New Jersey. The act requires that the obligor, i.e. , any person owing a duty of support (N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.2(g)), be present in the responding state during the period for which support is sought , and the obligor is presumed to have been present until otherwise shown. N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.7. The primary traditional foundation for in personam jurisdiction is the physical presence of the defendant in the state where an action is brought. Mackay v. Avison , 82 N.J. Super. 92 (App. Div. 1964). Defendant was present in New Jersey when the New Jersey complaint was filed and when process was served; it would clearly be repugnant to orderly process

if a defendant were capable of defeating jurisdiction merely by moving after a complaint was filed and/or service made upon him.

Since defendant was present in New Jersey when process was served, this court finds that it was invested with continuing personal jurisdiction over him.

Having determined that this court has jurisdiction over the person of defendant, the court will address the question of whether to elect, in its discretion, to exercise this jurisdiction. This court has been granted equity powers pursuant to R. 5:2, which reads in pertinent part as follows: "These rules shall be so construed as * * * to provide equitable relief in matters within the jurisdiction of the court involving the domestic relation." The equity maxim that decrees which would be vain or nugatory should not be made has been considered in the light of defendant's present residence in Connecticut. McClusky v. O'Brien , 137 N.J. Eq. 20 (Ch. 1945); Parivash v. Yousef , 89 N.J. Super. 133 (Ch. Div. 1965), mod. 94 N.J. Super. 403 (App. Div. 1967).

Defendant has no known property in this State and New Jersey's interest in this matter arises only because it has adopted URESA and it fortuitously happened to be the state in which defendant resided when the URESA proceedings, as stated above, were filed. Connecticut has also enacted URESA (C.G.S.A. §§ 17-327 to 355b now §§ 46b-180 to 208, and §§ 46b-209 to 211) so plaintiff could proceed in that state for support for such time as defendant was or remains a Connecticut resident.

However, a significant fact was developed at oral argument, namely, that defendant is employed by a corporation which is authorized to do business in New Jersey and has a registered agent for service of process in this State. Additionally, the ...

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