April 24, 2009
THOMAS BROWN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
THELMA BROWN, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cumberland County, Docket No. FM-06-144-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: March 25, 2009
Before Judges Cuff and C.L. Miniman.
Plaintiff Thomas Brown appeals from a Final Amended Judgment of Divorce (Amended JOD) entered on March 15, 2006, which included his service-connected veterans' disability compensation benefits and social security disability benefits as income for purposes of calculating alimony, and an April 11, 2008, order dismissing his application to amend the Amended JOD to exclude such benefits. We dismiss the appeal from the Amended JOD and affirm the dismissal of his motion to exclude disability benefits from income.
The time for appeal from a final judgment or order is governed by Rule 2:4-1, which provides that such appeals must be filed within forty-five days of the entry of the final judgment or order. Plaintiff's appeal was filed on April 18, 2008. This was more than two years after the March 15, 2006, Amended JOD. We cannot extend the time for appeal for more than thirty days.
R. 2:4-4(a). As a result, the appeal from the March 15, 2006, Amended JOD must be dismissed as untimely filed.
Plaintiff did timely appeal the April 11, 2008, order denying his application to amend the Amended JOD to exclude his social security and veterans' disability benefits from income for purposes of calculating alimony. Thus, we do have jurisdiction of that issue. The trial judge dismissed that application because it merely sought to appeal a judicial decision of December 9, 2005, that was incorporated into the Amended JOD. Although plaintiff had "reserved" his right to appeal that decision in the Amended JOD, no such appeal was ever taken.
This dismissal was entirely appropriate. Once the time for appeal has lapsed, a JOD is final for all purposes and may only be modified upon a showing of changed circumstances. Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139, 146-47 (1980). No such changed circumstances were shown here. The application was nothing more than an attempt to appeal that which has been final for appellate purposes for over two years.
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