July 17, 2009
ILETA D. BROWN, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
HOLLEWOOD E. BROWN, A/K/A EMERY KNIGHT BROWN, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FM-07-1027-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 2, 2009
Before Judges Collester and Graves.
The parties were married on May 18, 1985. Both of their children are emancipated. Defendant Hollewood Brown appeals from a judgment of divorce (JOD) dated February 20, 2008. We affirm.
Plaintiff filed her complaint for divorce on November 6, 2006. Defendant was personally served on November 21, 2006, and on March 22, 2007, default was entered against defendant. On May 1, 2007, plaintiff filed a notice of application for equitable distribution, which was served on defendant on May 14, 2007. In her application for equitable distribution, plaintiff requested permanent alimony in the amount of $445 per week, based on her Social Security Disability payment in the amount of $700 each month and defendant's annual income of approximately $46,000 per year.
On June 27, 2007, the parties entered into a consent order vacating defendant's default and setting a schedule for discovery. But defendant never filed a case information statement, and he never provided discovery. On August 8, 2007, the order of June 27, 2007, was vacated and default was entered against defendant. When the matter was tried on January 30, 2008, defendant was still in default. Therefore, he was not allowed to testify, but his attorney cross-examined plaintiff.
The court determined that the former marital home is to be sold and, subject to certain adjustments at the time of closing, the proceeds from the sale are to be equally divided. In addition, the court found that plaintiff presented credible testimony regarding her need to use credit cards for a period of time after the parties separated and, if plaintiff documents that her credit card debt was incurred between May 31, 2006, and December 31, 2007, that debt will "be paid off the top from the proceeds of the sale of the marital home." The court made detailed findings regarding plaintiff's need for permanent alimony in the amount of $225 per week. Defendant was ordered to maintain life insurance in the amount of $200,000, with plaintiff as the irrevocable beneficiary, for so long as defendant has an alimony obligation to plaintiff. The court also required defendant to cooperate in the preparation of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to divide and distribute defendant's pension benefits, and it awarded counsel fees and costs to plaintiff in the amount of $6500.
On appeal, defendant presents the following arguments:
TRIAL COURT CONDUCTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY ENTERING DEFAULT AGAINST APPELLANT ALTHOUGH COURT WAS ADVISED OF APPELLANT'S ILLNESS AND INABILITY TO COOPERATE WITH COUNSEL. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
TRIAL COURT CONDUCTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY NOT IMPUTING INCOME TO RESPONDENT WHO REQUESTED ALIMONY AND DID NOT PROVIDE SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE OF DISABILITY AND WHO ADMITTED THAT SHE COULD WORK PART-TIME. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
TRIAL COURT CONDUCTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY NOT CONSIDERING FACT THAT RESPONDENT/ PLAINTIFF ABANDONED MARITAL HOME WHEN CONSIDERING ISSUE OF EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
TRIAL COURT CONDUCTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY GRANTING PERMANENT ALIMONY WHERE RECORD WAS ABSENT OF PROOF THAT THE RESPONDENT COULD NOT BECOME SELF-SUFFICIENT. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
TRIAL COURT CONDUCTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY NOT CONSIDERING ALL FACTORS LISTED IN N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 WHEN ORDERING PERMANENT ALIMONY. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
TRIAL COURT CONDUCTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY NOT CONSIDERING ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION OF RESPONDENT'S COHABITANTS ON ISSUE OF ALIMONY WHO RESIDED WITH THE RESPONDENT THE TIME THE JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE WAS ENTERED. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
TRIAL COURT CONDUCTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY NOT CONSIDERING REHABILITATIVE ALIMONY BEFORE AWARDING PERMANENT ALIMONY TO THE RESPONDENT. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
TRIAL COURT CONDUCTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY NOT REQUIRING RESPONDENT TO PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION CONCERNING HER CREDIT CARD DEBT. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
Based on our examination of the record and briefs, we are satisfied the judgment is based on findings of fact which are adequately supported by credible evidence, Rule 2:11-3(e)(1)(A), and defendant's arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion, Rule 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We therefore affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Convery in his comprehensive oral decision on January 30, 2008.
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