On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hudson County, Docket FM-09-108-03.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Lyons and Waugh.
Defendant Luis Alvarez appeals from the February 8, 2008, post-judgment order of the Family Part imposing sanctions for his failure to comply with certain prior orders concerning his support obligations. We vacate Paragraphs 4, 6, 7, and 8 of the order and remand to the Family Part for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
The following facts inform our decision on this appeal. The parties were married in 1994, separated in 2001, and divorced in 2003. They have two children, a son born in 1994 and a daughter born in 1996. Pursuant to the judgment of divorce, Alvarez*fn1 was required to pay child support and term alimony, plus a percentage of other child-related expenses.
In a post-judgment order entered in May 2005, Alvarez was ordered to pay $1,622.85 toward parochial school expenses and $713 toward summer activities, each amount representing sixty-two percent of the expenses involved. When he failed to make the required payments, his former wife, acting pro se, made a motion to enforce those obligations. In an order entered on August 12, 2005, the Family Part enforced both requirements.*fn2
In addition to enforcing the payment obligations, the August 12, 2005, order provided, separately as to each obligation, that if Alvarez failed to make the required payment, "a sanction of $25.00 per day [would] be assessed for each day he fail[ed] to comply." Alvarez has certified that he never received that order, and no proof of service is contained in the record before us.
In 2007, Alvarez filed a motion to reduce his support payments, based upon his claimed loss of employment. His former wife cross-moved to enforce the August 12, 2005, order. Alvarez's motion was heard on January 4, 2008. He was ordered to supply certain information not relevant to this appeal by February 8, 2008, which was designated as the return date of his former wife's cross-motion.
On February 8, 2008, following oral argument, the motion judge entered an order that, in addition to other relief, added the outstanding school tuition and summer activity obligations to Alvarez's child support arrears.*fn3 She also added $19,450 for each of the two unpaid obligations to the arrears, representing the accumulated $25 per day for each day of non-payment. Consequently, a total sanction of $38,900 was imposed for Alvarez's continuing failure to pay a total of $2,335.85 in extra support obligations. The motion judge also imposed an unspecified amount of community service through the Hudson County Sheriff's office and $1,830 in counsel fees. This appeal followed.
On appeal, Alvarez argues that the motion judge should have conducted a hearing to determine whether he actually received the order imposing the $25 per day sanction. He also argues that the motion judge's imposition of a total sanction of $38,900, plus community service and counsel fees, for ...