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Monmouth County Board of Social Services on Behalf of Florida for Sylvia Lohman v. Lohman

Decided: January 5, 1989.

MONMOUTH COUNTY BOARD OF SOCIAL SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA FOR SYLVIA LOHMAN, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JOHN LOHMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



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

King and Ashbey. The opinion of the court was delivered by Ashbey, J.A.D.

Ashbey

This appeal raises the question of New Jersey's duty as a responding state respecting an initiating state's claim for welfare reimbursement under the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (RURESA),*fn1 N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.24 et seq., when a previous New Jersey court order terminated defendant's support obligation for violations of defendant's visitation rights. We conclude that New Jersey has a duty to establish and to enforce a reimbursement order using RURESA guidelines. N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.41, 30.46.

Pursuant to RURESA, the State of Florida brought an action in New Jersey to obtain reimbursement of public assistance which it had paid for the benefit of defendant's children. At the ensuing hearing, Florida was represented by the Monmouth County Board of Social Services (Board). N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.41b. Specifically, Florida sought reimbursement of $2,893 which it had paid to support defendant's four children from April 1986 through January 1987 (Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), 42 U.S.C.A. ยง 601 et seq.), and which it asserted defendant owed as arrearages respecting his duty of support. N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.26b. Defendant relied on a 1982 New Jersey Family Part order which terminated his child support obligation on the grounds that the childrens' mother had denied him visitation. The Board contended that the State of Florida was not bound by the 1982 order because it was not a party to that action. The Family Part Judge entered the RURESA order requiring defendant to pay $2,893 to the State of Florida at the

rate of $25 per week.*fn2 Defendant appeals and we affirm.

[R]URESA remedies are in addition to and not in substitution for other remedies. N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.27; Daly v. Daly, 21 N.J. 599, 603 (1956). N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.32 provides:

If a state or a political subdivision furnishes support to an individual obligee it has the same right to initiate a proceeding under this act as the individual obligee for the purpose of securing reimbursement for support furnished and of obtaining continuing support.

Respecting support rendered to children by the AFDC program, "New Jersey has long elected to participate in this program of cooperative federalism." Franklin v. New Jersey Dept. of Human Services, 111 N.J. 1, 10 (1988); Essex Cty. Welfare Div. v. Simon, 178 N.J. Super. 523, 527 (App.Div.1981); Dolberry v. Dolberry, 188 N.J. Super. 265, 270 (Ch.Div.1982); N.J.S.A. 44:10-1 to -18; N.J.S.A. 9:17-53c (Uniform Parentage Act). Any person chargeable by law for support may be required to repay public assistance to dependent children. N.J.S.A. 44:7-19.

Under N.J.S.A. 2A:4-30.45, it is specifically provided that,

[t]he determination or enforcement of a duty of support owed to one obligee is unaffected by any interference by another obligee with rights of custody or visitation granted by a court.

In the face of this legislative mandate, our courts have consistently ruled that the duty of support owed to children in a RURESA proceeding is not affected by interference with visitation rights. Muller v. Muller, 212 N.J. Super. 665, 673 (Ch.Div.1986); Kaplan v. Kaplan, 214 N.J. Super. 210, 218-219 (Ch.Div.1986). In the seminal case of Daly v. Daly, the Supreme Court held that the dereliction of ...


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