On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Atlantic County, Docket No. FM-01-245-06P.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 16, 2008
Before Judges Graves and Grall.
Plaintiff Sheikh E. Kabir appeals from provisions of an amended final judgment of divorce awarding defendant Kuhali Kabir alimony, equitable distribution and counsel fees. We modify the award of equitable distribution and otherwise affirm.
The Kabirs were married in Bangladesh on January 15, 1996. Four and one-half months later, plaintiff immigrated to the United States. Defendant remained in Bangladesh, where she gave birth to their first child in December 1996.
In April 1997, plaintiff became a citizen of the United States. Later that year, defendant and the child moved to this country. At that time, plaintiff worked at a casino, and the family lived in an apartment in Atlantic City.
In 1999, plaintiff purchased a duplex residence in Ventnor for $110,000. When plaintiff applied for a mortgage, he reported gross income of $1793 per month and anticipated income of $720 per month from rental of the first-floor unit of the duplex.
Defendant obtained a job at the mall in 1999 and gave birth to the Kabirs' second child in February 2000. In June 2000, defendant took a job in a casino. In addition to their income from employment, the Kabirs collected approximately $800 per month from the tenants who occupied one-half of their duplex.
During the course of the marriage, plaintiff took three separate loans secured by the equity in the marital residence - a $25,000 loan in February 2001, a $35,000 loan in September 2001 and a $55,000 loan in 2002. Plaintiff spent $18,000 of the first loan to pay credit card debt and used a portion of each subsequent home equity loan to pay the prior loan.
In support of the application for the $25,000 loan, defendant reported weekly income in the amount of $860. Between November 2001 to March 2002, the Kabirs visited with their families in Bangladesh. While they were there, neither party worked.
In March 2004, plaintiff sold the marital residence and received $89,100 at the time of closing. He made arrangements with the buyer that allowed his family to remain in their home for a time. But on May 27, 2004, the Kabirs left for Bangladesh, where they remained until August 30, 2004. Again, neither plaintiff nor defendant worked while abroad.
The Kabirs returned to New Jersey, and in January 2005 they separated and shortly thereafter defendant returned to Bangladesh with the children. According to defendant, their separation was attributable to plaintiff's abusive conduct and his insistence on control of their finances, including her earnings. According to plaintiff, defendant was not faithful to him.
Plaintiff sent significant amounts of money to Bangladesh during the marriage. Between March 2002 and December 13, 2005, plaintiff transferred $20,964 to Bangladesh, $2222 in 2002, $1360 in 2004 and $17,382 in 2005. Defendant contended that these expenditures were related to land plaintiff purchased in Bangladesh, but plaintiff denied any land purchase and explained that he had sent some of the money to support defendant while she was in Bangladesh and the remainder to assist his parents.
When the parties separated in January 2005, the account in which plaintiff had deposited the $89,100 he received at the time of the sale of the residence had a balance of $69,289. On September 7, 2005, when plaintiff filed his complaint for divorce, the account had a balance of $43,915.
A default judgment dissolving the Kabirs' marriage was entered on December 1, 2005 while defendant was in Bangladesh. She returned to New Jersey on December 7, 2005 and subsequently applied to reopen the judgment for the purpose of addressing equitable distribution, alimony, custody and child support.
Plaintiff left New Jersey for Bangladesh on January 5, 2006. He remarried in that country in February 2006.
On July 21, 2006, on defendant's motion, the court ordered the transfer of the funds held in plaintiff's account, a total of $29,975.64, to defendant's attorney pending conclusion of the litigation. ...