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Roberts v. Roberts

January 23, 2009

JOHN R. ROBERTS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MARIA M. ROBERTS, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FM-02-1477-06.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued December 2, 2008

Before Judges Skillman and Grall.

This is plaintiff John R. Roberts's appeal from an order entered on his cross-motion to modify and Maria M. Roberts's motion to enforce a final judgment of divorce. The order requires plaintiff to pay amounts he owes defendant for equitable distribution and support.*fn1 Because the trial court's factual findings are supported by the record and the rulings are consistent with controlling legal principles, we affirm.

The parties married on April 23, 1995. They have two children, one born in May 1996 and the other in August 2002. The parties were divorced on September 5, 2006, and the judgment incorporates a property settlement agreement (PSA) the parties signed on May 31, 2006.

During the marriage, plaintiff was employed as a carpenter and defendant was not employed. The alimony amount set in the PSA "is based on an earned income of the [plaintiff] from all sources in the amount of $80,000 per year."

The PSA provides for payment of support in two different amounts, one applicable before and one after the sale of the marital residence. Prior to the sale, plaintiff's obligation for child support and alimony was combined, $315 per week in cash support plus "household expenses, automobile expenses, insurance expenses and other expenses as set forth in Schedules A, B & C of [his wife's] Case Information Statement." Following the sale, plaintiff was to pay $500 alimony per week for 260 weeks and $216 child support per week, a total of $716 per week.

At the time of the divorce, the parties owned a residence in Mahwah with equity of approximately $279,000 and a two-family rental property in Ridgefield with equity of approximately $260,000. In addition, they had various bank accounts and retirement assets that are not at issue on this appeal. The PSA provides for defendant to receive the following as her share of the marital estate: $50,000 "within five days of executing" the PSA; one-half of the proceeds from the sale of the marital residence; and $78,000 for defendant's interest in the Ridgefield rental property payable within thirty days of the sale of the marital residence.

Plaintiff paid defendant $50,000 after the PSA was signed, but payment due defendant for her interest in the rental property and marital residence was complicated by delay in the sale of the marital residence. Although the PSA provided for the parties to market the residence on their own until June 30, 2006 and thereafter list it with a real estate broker, plaintiff opted to continue his efforts to sell the property himself.

Defendant and the children lived in the home until September 2006, when, by agreement memorialized in the PSA, they moved to Pennsylvania. After they left, plaintiff returned to the residence.

Plaintiff decided to refinance the mortgage on the residence and purchase defendant's interest in that property. On March 7, 2007, plaintiff paid defendant $125,000 for her interest. He determined that defendant was entitled to one-half the equity, $139,500, minus hypothetical transactional costs in the amount of $14,500. Although plaintiff also kept the rental property, he did not pay defendant $78,000 as required by the PSA.

After defendant moved to Pennsylvania and prior to plaintiff's March 7, 2007 "purchase" of defendant's interest in the marital residence, plaintiff continued to pay cash support in the amount of $315 per week but ceased payment of living expenses. During the twenty-seven-week period beginning September 1, 2006 and ending March 7, 2007, plaintiff deposited twenty-one $315 payments in defendant's account. During that same period, defendant paid $13,751.35 for car insurance, wastewater, water, phone service, television service and mortgage; each payment was documented. On March 8, 2007, plaintiff made his first payment of $500 weekly term alimony and $216 weekly child support.

Plaintiff's earnings have not fallen below the $80,000 level identified in the PSA. He acknowledged earning approximately $80,000, and his W-2 forms for 2007 reflect earnings of $88,074.04. He claims, however, that he had earned much more during the marriage ...


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