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Donelan v. Doherty

Decided: May 4, 1988.

MAUREEN F. DONELAN, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
HUGH F. DOHERTY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County.

J. H. Coleman and Stern. J. H. Coleman, P.J.A.D.

Coleman

[227 NJSuper Page 536] On May 22, 1984 plaintiff obtained a judgment in a paternity action in the State of Maryland decreeing that defendant was the father of plaintiff's child, D.D., who was born in Maryland on March 14, 1981. Defendant and plaintiff were never married. On March 19, 1985, the Circuit Court of Montgomery County Maryland ordered defendant to pay $700 per month as child support commencing July 1, 1984. The Maryland support order was registered in New Jersey pursuant to the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA),

N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.57, on January 14, 1987 and the formal order was signed on February 20, 1987. The effective date of the registration, however, was stayed until March 1, 1987 to permit defendant to file an appeal in the State of Maryland. Defendant did not file an appeal in Maryland. Consequently, the stay of registration of the Maryland support order was vacated and the foreign support order was deemed registered as of March 1, 1987.

Plaintiff moved to enforce the foreign support order and defendant moved for a reduction in the foreign support order based on alleged changed circumstances. At a hearing conducted on May 11, 1987, plaintiff's application for enforcement of the registered Maryland support order was granted. A formal order was entered on May 21, 1987 enforcing the foreign support order. Subsequently, the court heard arguments on defendant's application to modify the foreign support order based on alleged changed circumstances. A formal order was entered on June 30, 1987 denying that application. Defendant has appealed from the June 30, 1987 order. We now affirm.

As we glean from the record, the factual basis for defendant's application for a modification of the Maryland support order was as follows. At the time the Maryland support order was entered in March 1985, plaintiff was not gainfully employed. During the interval between March 1985 and the end of 1986, plaintiff became self-employed in a child care business and grossed $16,246 in 1986. Defendant also suggests that changes in the gross income of himself and his wife entitled him to a modification. Defendant's tax returns, however, show gross income for: 1984, $77,105; 1985, $110,528; and 1986, $126,055. In addition, defendant has an arthritic condition of his knee that may have deteriorated progressively since March 1985.

In this appeal, defendant argues that:

1. THE TRIAL COURT ERRONEOUSLY DECIDED IN MAY THAT THE STAY OF THE MARYLAND PROCEEDINGS TO MARCH 1, 1987 WAS A REQUIREMENT THAT THE DEFENDANT SEEK AN APPEAL IN MARYLAND

AND ACCORDINGLY SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED ALL SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES.

2. THE REPORT OF THE MASTER FAILED TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE DEFENDANT'S OBLIGATIONS TO HIS FIRST FAMILY AS SET FORTH IN THE NEW JERSEY JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE.

3. THE DEFENDANT HAS A CONTINUED OBLIGATION TO SUPPORT THE CHILDREN OF THE FIRST MARRIAGE INCLUDING THE EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF SAID CHILDREN.

4. THE ABILITY TO PAY ANY FORM OF SUPPORT ALBEIT ALIMONY, CHILD SUPPORT OR PATERNITY, IS BASED ON THE ABILITY TO ...


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