On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division-Family Part, Bergen County, FM-02-591-04.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 2, 2008
Before Judges Stern and Payne.
Plaintiff, Nancy Wichard, appeals from an order entered by a judge of the Family Part on December 7, 2007 that increased child support payments by her former husband, defendant Scott Wichard, from $817 per month to $850 per week. On appeal, plaintiff presents the following arguments:
THE TRIAL COURT'S FACTUAL FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY THE RECORD AND THEREFORE, THE COURT'S ORDER SHOULD BE REVERSED AND REMANDED.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO ANALYZE THE FACTORS SET FORTH AT N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(a) IN ESTABLISHING CHILD SUPPORT IN A SITUATION WHERE AS HERE, THE PARTIES' COMBINED INCOMES EXCEED THAT PROVIDED UNDER THE CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT DENIED THE PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST TO CONDUCT FINANCIAL DISCOVERY IN THIS MATTER.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT DENIED THE PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR COUNSEL FEES.
The facts relevant to this appeal follow. The parties were married on July 3, 1999. On November 9, 2000, fraternal twins were born, and on September 12, 2003, after four years of marriage, plaintiff filed for divorce. A final judgment of divorce was entered on November 3, 2004. A property settlement agreement (PSA) between the parties, incorporated into the divorce decree, provided for joint custody of the twins.
Although plaintiff was designated the parent of primary residence, custody of the children was equally shared.
Throughout the course of the marriage and thereafter, defendant was employed by Morgan Stanley, receiving a substantial salary and bonuses.*fn1 Prior to the marriage, and until April 2000, plaintiff had been employed as an account executive, providing client and project management for national and international multimedia accounts. She earned a salary of approximately $60,000 per year. At the time of the divorce, plaintiff intended to return to school to qualify for her certification as a teacher. As a consequence, and despite the short length of the marriage, the PSA provided that defendant would pay plaintiff limited duration alimony in the monthly amount of $7,187 for a period of three years, ending on October 30, 2007. For tax reasons, that amount included $667 monthly for the cost of preschool, as well as camp costs of $500 per month. In addition, the PSA required defendant to pay $817 monthly in child support for the children. The agreement provided:
(b) HUSBAND'S child support obligation, including the issues of work-related child care (including camp if applicable) and other extraordinary costs shall be . . . reviewed at the expiration of three (3) years from its commencement hereunder, which date is intended to be simultaneous with the expiration of WIFE'S alimony. The parties shall attempt to agree on an appropriate amount of child support to be paid by HUSBAND to WIFE, taking into account the parties' and children's circumstances at that time, the income of the parties (including all gross wages, commissions, salaries, bonuses and income from bonuses), and the parenting time arrangements of the parties, in addition to any factors normally considered in the determination of child support, including but not limited to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines and applicable New Jersey law. In the event that the parties cannot come to such an agreement, the parties shall attempt to mediate the issue and/or resort to a court of competent jurisdiction.
On August 27, 2007, plaintiff's newly-retained counsel wrote a letter to counsel for defendant, reminding her that child support was to be reviewed and stating:
You can appreciate that the issues of support readjustment are extremely time sensitive. Thus, if I do not hear from you or someone else on behalf of Mr. Wichard not later than September 05, 2007, I will file an application on an immediate basis to facilitate the child support adjustment.
By letter dated September 4, 2007, defendant's counsel responded, confirming continued representation of defendant and stating:
I have already advised Mr. Wichard to begin gathering all of his current financial information so that we may exchange same in a ...