July 14, 2008
DEBRA D. LEVINE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
MICHAEL B. LEVINE, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hunterdon County, Docket No. FM-10-356-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted April 8, 2008
Before Judges Coburn and Fuentes.
Plaintiff Debra D. Levine appeals from the order of the Family Part denying her post divorce judgment motion seeking an increase in alimony support. We affirm.
The parties were divorced in June 2003, after a nineteen-day trial occurring over a sixteen month period. In the judgment of divorce (JOD) dated June 23, 2003, the court awarded plaintiff alimony in the amount of $8274.45 per month. The court found that the alimony award, together with imputed income of $32,000 per year, enabled plaintiff to continue to enjoy the marital lifestyle. On August 22, 2003, the court denied plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the alimony award.
In August 2006, the court granted defendant's motion to emancipate the oldest child, and increased the amount of child support for the remaining child. In so doing, the court specifically declined to consider a series of cross-motions filed by plaintiff that sought, among other things, to increase the amount of alimony, finding them outside the scope of defendant's original motion.
Two months thereafter, plaintiff affirmatively moved for an increase in alimony, arguing that she was unable to maintain the marital lifestyle due to: (1) increased expenses and higher cost of living; (2) inability to actually earn the $32,0000 in income imputed to her by the court; and (3) general deterioration of her health. She also argued that defendant's annual income had increased significantly from the date of the JOD, from approximately $270,000 to $470,000.
After considering the parties' written submissions, Judge Buchsbaum denied plaintiff's application for a plenary hearing, finding that she did not establish a prima facie case showing changed circumstances. See Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 (1980).
In this appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial erred: (1) in finding that she did not present sufficient evidence of changed circumstances entitling her to a plenary hearing; (2) in continuing to impute $32,000 in annual income to her; (3) in failing to find that she is entitled to share in her former husband's expanded lifestyle; and (4) in denying her request for counsel fees incurred in the prosecution of this petition.
After reviewing the record, and in light of prevailing legal standards, we affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Buchsbaum in his memorandum of opinion dated January 12, 2007.
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