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Morgan v. Morgan

January 3, 2008

LLOYD MORGAN, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SHARON MORGAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FM-07-546-05.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued December 10, 2007

Before Judges S.L. Reisner and Baxter.

Defendant Sharon Morgan appeals from a December 8, 2006 post-judgment order that determined each party's share of proceeds from the sale of the former marital home. We affirm.

I.

The parties were divorced on February 24, 2006. A property settlement agreement that was incorporated into the judgment of divorce resolved all issues other than term alimony and child support. After a three-day trial, the court issued a letter opinion on January 31, 2006, in which the court established the amounts plaintiff Lloyd Morgan was required to pay for alimony and child support. In October 2006, plaintiff filed a motion seeking the distribution of the proceeds of the sale of the marital home. Those proceeds were being held in escrow. Defendant cross-moved, and opposed plaintiff's debit and credit analysis and the proposed distribution figures he presented. She requested that the court accept her debit and credit analysis and distribution figures.

Oral argument was held on that motion on December 8, 2006, at which time the court entered an order accepting plaintiff's proposed distribution and rejecting defendant's. The court supplemented its oral ruling with a letter opinion of December 14, 2006. In that letter opinion, the judge explained his reasons for concluding that plaintiff's submission was "[the] more accurate of the two submissions." The judge reasoned:

It is the court's belief that [defendant's] application . . . raised issues that were not presented at trial, nor ordered by the court [in its February 24, 2006 order].

These [issues] may have been forgotten or omitted by [her] and [she] now sought additional credits for prior expenses.

Since this had not been raised previously, these claim[ed] deductions or the actual existence of a right to receive them [is] not permitted. . . . These claims or credits were nowhere in testimony or in any agreement made by the parties. [Accordingly,] the court is accepting the numbers presented by [plaintiff].

The parties submitted more than 100 hundred pages of documents to the trial judge prior to the December 8, 2006 motion hearing. We summarize the contentions of the parties and provide a brief description of the facts in order to place their contentions in context.

The parties were married on September 11, 1982. They resided together in the marital home located in South Orange, which they purchased in 1990 for $160,000. Plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce on August 31, 2004. A case management order was entered on February 24, 2005. At that time, the mortgage balance was approximately $39,000. In that February 24, 2005 case management order, the court ordered the parties to use the home equity line of credit to pay off the mortgage. The order also provided that no further withdrawals from the home equity line were to be made except by agreement of both parties, and if the parties were unable to agree, then they were directed to arrange a telephonic conference call with the judge.

A year later, on February 24, 2006, the judge directed the parties to list the marital home with Weichert Realtors and authorized Weichert to establish the listing price. The court also directed the parties to use the home equity loan to pay third and fourth quarter 2005 real estate taxes. The judge directed that the amount of those taxes would be charged against plaintiff's share of the proceeds of the sale of the marital home. The first quarter 2006 real estate taxes were also ordered to be paid from the home equity line of credit, with ...


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