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Banks v. Banks

Decided: November 25, 1987.

ANNE BANKS, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ROBERT J. BANKS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, Middlesex County.

Furman, Brody and Long. The opinion of the court was delivered by Furman, P.J.A.D.

Furman

Defendant appeals from a post-judgment order in a divorce proceeding, challenging the fixing of the arrears in support payments owed by him in accordance with the judgment of divorce and pendente lite support order in this State, and not in accordance with an intervening Tennessee order entered pursuant to the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA), N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.24 et seq.; Tenn.Code Ann. § 36-5-201 et seq. We affirm.

The judgment of divorce between the parties in February 1984 imposed the obligation on defendant husband to pay support of $150 per week, unallocated, for plaintiff wife and the four children of the marriage. Defendant was then unemployed. He moved back to Tennessee where his parents lived. He failed to gain reemployment and fell far behind in his support payments. The amounts of arrears owed by him were twice reduced to judgment in this State upon plaintiff's motions to enforce litigant's rights, both times with defendant represented or participating pro se: a $5,768.63 judgment in April 1984 and a $6,300 judgment in April 1985.

Plaintiff's complaint under URESA, dated September 1985, was transmitted to Knox County, Tennessee, where defendant resided. The Assistant District Attorney of Knox County represented plaintiff. The Circuit Court Judge, after reciting that "the State and the Defendant were now in agreement as to the appropriate findings of fact and the appropriate relief to be granted," reduced defendant's "current ongoing support obligation" to $30 per week, reduced the total arrears then owed to $4,639.63 with a credit or off-set to defendant "due to a period of diminished ability to pay support during unemployment," and ordered defendant to pay an additional $10 per week towards the accumulated arrears.

Subsequently, in July 1986 and November 1986, the Chancery Division, Family Part in this State entered orders enforcing defendant's support obligation of $150 per week under the divorce judgment and fixing the total arrears owed by him at $38,000,*fn1 notwithstanding the Tennessee URESA order. Appeal is brought from the November 1986 order, which obligated defendant to convey by deed to plaintiff his one-half interest in the former marital home in full satisfaction of all his "debts and liabilities" to plaintiff as of that date. There is no cross-appeal by plaintiff from the valuation of the parties' net equity in the former marital home at $76,000, although at oral argument plaintiff's attorney suggested that valuation was too high.

Defendant's argument mistakes the URESA legislative scheme of nonsupersession. N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.53 provides:

A support order made by a court of this state pursuant to this act does not nullify and is not nullified by a support order made by a court of this State pursuant to any other law or by a support order made by a court of any other state pursuant to a substantially similar act or any other law, regardless of

priority of issuance, unless otherwise specifically provided by the court. Amounts paid for a particular period pursuant to any support order made by the court of another state shall be credited against the amounts accruing or accrued for the same period under any support order made by the court of this State.

The comparable nonsupersession provision in Tennessee, Tenn.Code Ann. § 36-5-226, provides:

Any order of support issued by a court of this state when acting as a responding state shall not supersede any previous order of support issued in a divorce or separate maintenance action, but the amounts for a particular period paid pursuant to either order shall be ...


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