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Devaney v. L'Esperance

April 2, 2007

HELEN MARY DEVANEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
FRANCIS A. L'ESPERANCE, JR., DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division-Family Part, Hudson County, No. FM-09-2486-04.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Argued January 24, 2007

Before Judges Wefing, Parker and Messano.

Plaintiff appeals from a trial court order of September 20, 2005, entering judgment for defendant and dismissing her complaint and denying counsel fees. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.

The parties were involved in a long-term, intimate relationship. The parties met in September 1983 when plaintiff, then twenty-three years old, began working for defendant, then fifty-one years old, as a receptionist in the office he maintained for his medical practice as an opthamologist. After several months, their relationship became intimate. Plaintiff was aware that defendant was married, but he told her the marriage was not a happy one and that he would be getting a divorce.

During the entire course of their relationship, plaintiff never socialized with defendant's family with the exception of once having dinner with defendant's son. Early in their relationship defendant began paying plaintiff's telephone bill and giving her money to purchase groceries for the dinners she would cook for the two of them. In 1988 plaintiff moved into Manhattan, and defendant paid one-half of her rent.

Plaintiff worked in defendant's office for approximately nine years. Even after the employment relationship ended, she would help when needed with office-related tasks.

By 1993 plaintiff was annoyed that defendant had not obtained a divorce, and she relocated to Connecticut and for a few months took care of her own expenses. She then returned to New York City, and defendant resumed paying all of her expenses.

They went on several vacations together, both foreign and domestic, for which defendant paid. During the course of this relationship, defendant paid plaintiff's tuition and related expenses to obtain her college degree.

Late in 1994, when defendant had still not obtained a divorce, plaintiff moved to Seattle. She did not have a job, and defendant continued to pay her expenses. Plaintiff remained in Seattle for two and one-half years, and defendant visited her six or seven times. Plaintiff testified that in the summer of 1997 defendant promised her that he would buy her a home, continue working on getting a divorce, provide her with financial support and have a baby with her. She then returned to the east coast where defendant rented an apartment for her in North Bergen. Defendant paid all the expenses in connection with that apartment, which he ultimately purchased.

In the spring of 2003 the parties began to attempt to have a child together. Their efforts, however, were not successful, and plaintiff learned that she would not be able to conceive a child naturally because her fallopian tubes were blocked. They began to discuss the possibility of invitro fertilization, but in August 2003 defendant, by then more than seventy years old, told plaintiff that he did not wish to have another child and that he did not wish to see her anymore.

The ending of the relationship has resulted in protracted litigation between the parties. This is the second time they have appeared before us. In L'Esperance v. Devaney, No. A-0286-04T1 (App. Div. Nov. 21, 2005), we affirmed a trial court order granting defendant possession of the condominium which ...


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