On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division - Family Part, Burlington County, Docket No. FM-03-360-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Cuff and Baxter.
In this post-judgment matrimonial matter, we review a March 7, 2008 order that suspended defendant Nancy Day-Cordier's right to receive alimony for a three-week period; required her to pay counsel fees that plaintiff, Ray Hughes Cordier, Jr., incurred in defending a foreclosure action against the former marital home; required her to pay plaintiff's counsel fees for an earlier motion plaintiff had filed; and required her to supply plaintiff with detailed financial records. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.
The parties were divorced on February 2, 2007. Their judgment of divorce (JOD) provided, in relevant part: 1) in return for a payment from plaintiff in the amount of $100,000, defendant relinquished her interest in the former marital home; 2) plaintiff would refinance the underlying mortgage to ensure that defendant was no longer listed as responsible for payment of that mortgage; 3) defendant warranted that other than the mortgage, she had not caused any liens, judgments or encumbrances to be lodged against the former marital home, but in the event any encumbrances were found to exist, she agreed to satisfy such encumbrances from the $100,000 she received from plaintiff; and 4) plaintiff was required to pay defendant $425 per week as term alimony for a period of four years, commencing on the date that she vacated the former marital home.
On November 5, 2007, plaintiff filed a motion to enforce litigant's rights, which was postponed on two occasions at defendant's request, and was decided, without any opposition being filed by defendant, on January 11, 2008. In support of his November 5, 2007 motion for enforcement of litigant's rights, plaintiff asserted that Velocity Investments, L.L.C. (Velocity) had placed a lien of $16,221.62 on the marital home by reason of defendant's failure to satisfy her credit card debt. He also alleged that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had imposed a lien of $4,684.90 on the marital home due to defendant's unpaid tax obligations. He sought an order suspending his obligation to pay alimony until defendant satisfied the encumbrances, as well as an accounting of how defendant spent the $100,000 she received from the divorce settlement. Finally, he sought counsel fees for defending the foreclosure action that was instituted against the former marital home by defendant's judgment creditor, Velocity, and he sought counsel fees for his November 5, 2007 motion.
In relevant part, the January 11, 2008 order suspended plaintiff's obligation to pay term alimony to defendant until she provided a written list of all her creditors and the payments she made on those debts, as well as proof of employment. She was also ordered to provide a full accounting of how she spent the $100,000 she received from plaintiff, including canceled checks, bank account statements, and creditor statements. The judge also ordered defendant to provide proof that she had satisfied all tax liabilities, the Velocity debt, and any other debts she had incurred. Last, the judge awarded plaintiff counsel fees of $1,527.13 in connection with his November 5, 2007 motion.
On February 1, 2008, defendant filed a motion for reconsideration in which she sought an order: requiring plaintiff to resume the payment of alimony and reimburse her for the alimony that had previously been suspended; vacating the portion of the January 11, 2008 order that required her to pay plaintiff's counsel fees in connection with the foreclosure action; and eliminating her obligation to pay plaintiff's counsel fees for the November 5, 2007 motion.
In her certification supporting her motion for reconsideration, defendant asserted that she had not filed any opposition to plaintiff's November 5, 2007 motion because he had assured her that if she satisfied the encumbrances on the marital home, he would withdraw his motion. She further asserted that she had indeed satisfied those encumbrances, and had provided proof to plaintiff that she had done so, but he had unexpectedly reneged on his promise to withdraw the motion. She maintained that not until she was served with a copy of the court's January 11, 2008 order, did she realize that plaintiff had not withdrawn his November 2007 motion.
In support of her reconsideration motion, defendant attached proof that she satisfied the $16,221.62 debt to Velocity on December 5, 2007. She also provided documentary proof that she paid the IRS debt in full on January 10, 2008.*fn1
Plaintiff filed a cross-motion in which he sought an order requiring defendant to pay the previously-ordered counsel fees of $1,527.13, to provide the previously-ordered accounting, and supply a statement listing all of her creditors and debts.
The two motions were heard on March 7, 2008. In her March 7, 2008 order, the judge specifically found that "[d]efendant has substantially complied with the court's order of January 11, 2008, such that the liens on the marital property have been removed." Despite that finding, the judge persisted in requiring plaintiff to supply an accounting of canceled checks paid to her creditors as well as an accounting of the $100,000 she received from the JOD; however, the judge modified her November ...