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Ward v. Ward

January 2, 2008

PATRICE T. WARD, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
STEPHEN WARD, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Burlington County, FM-03-47-98.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 15, 2007

Before Judges Parrillo, Graves, and Alvarez.

This appeal is taken from orders that reduced child support payable by defendant Stephen Ward to plaintiff Patrice T. Ward, resolved contested health insurance premium reimbursement issues, and awarded defendant counsel fees. The parties' two children are approximately twelve and eleven years old. Defendant is remarried and has two additional children.

Since their divorce in 1998, the parties have filed numerous motions related to parenting time, child support modification, support enforcement and contempt. In 2002, plaintiff appealed an order which reduced child support. This court found the reduction was not "justified or explained sufficiently" and remanded the matter for plenary hearing. Ward v. Ward, No. A-2215-02 (App. Div. Jan. 23, 2004) (slip op. at 6). We also directed that the motion court "reconsider and determine" the appropriate date from which defendant was obligated to reimburse plaintiff for health insurance premiums for the children. Id. at 7. It was then unclear if discovery was complete as to defendant's financial status. Id. at 9.

Plaintiff appeared pro se at the plenary hearing conducted on the remand. We affirm the 2004 and 2005 orders, issued as a result of the hearing, substantially for the reasons set forth in the family court judge's comprehensive letter opinion dated October 19, 2004, and December 17, 2004. The judge actually issued three separate orders, on October 19, 2004, December 17, 2004, and January 28, 2005, after a five-day plenary hearing and two days of oral argument on motions. Some brief additional comment is warranted.

The family court judge, based on exhaustive analysis of the proofs, adjusted child support as follows:

May 28, 2002 to December 31, 2002 at $229 per week;

January 1, 2003 to March 31, 2004 at $169 per week;

April 1, 2004 to April 6, 2004 at $88 per week;

April 7, 2004 to May 31, 2004 at $81 per week; and

June 1, 2004 and thereafter at $48 per week.

These figures include meticulously calculated adjustments for changes in day care expenses and take into account the birth of defendant's second child with his current wife, as well as defendant's assumption of the total cost of the children's health care insurance. Plaintiff's quarrel with the amounts relates to her claim that her 2002 income should not have been used in making the calculations as well as her view that the defendant is hiding income. As to the latter objection, the judge found there was no proof to that ...


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