On appeal from Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, Passaic County.
O'Brien and Landau. The opinion of the court was delivered by Landau, J.s.c. (t/a).
This is an appeal from a November 21, 1985 order of the Chancery Division, Family Part, which increased a level of support payments from Hamilton Vasquez, the unwed father of a minor child. The increase was based upon changed circumstances as found by the trial judge, who accepted the uncontested assertions of expenses and relative incomes of each parent which were made in the moving papers submitted by Katherine Bolduc, the custodial mother. The appeal also challenges an award of counsel fees and costs to Bolduc's attorney.
The underlying action was instituted by Vasquez who sought custody of the child. The case was resolved by a consent judgment entered February 25, 1982, under which custody and child support payments of $200 a month were given to Bolduc (nee Trujillo).
On appeal, Vasquez asserts:
(1) The movant has failed to demonstrate a change of circumstances to warrant a modification of her consent order.
(2) There were material issues of fact requiring a plenary hearing.
(3) The court lacked jurisdiction to award attorney's fees.
We have considered the record, the briefs, and the thoughtful opinion of the trial judge, but note that there is no indication that the parties or the court have addressed the applicability of the principles expressed in the New Jersey Parentage Act (N.J.S.A. 9:17-38, et seq.). That act codifies the principle that, "The parent and child relationship extends equally to every child and to every parent, regardless of the marital status of the parents." (N.J.S.A. 9:17-40.) The standards set forth at N.J.S.A. 9:17-53e should be applied in this matter. That section provides:
In determining the amount to be paid by a parent for support of the child and the period during which the duty of support is owed, a court enforcing the obligation of support shall consider all relevant facts, including the:
(2) Standard of living and economic circumstances ...