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O'Connor v. Drobner

August 11, 2009

JEANNE E. O'CONNOR, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
RICHARD M. DROBNER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, FM-02-2279-00.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 19, 2009

Before Judges Wefing, Parker and LeWinn.

In this post-judgment matrimonial matter, defendant Richard M. Drobner appeals from two orders entered in the Family Part on January 18, 2008; the first order denied defendant's motion to be relieved of the requirement that his passport remain in his attorney's possession; the second order required defendant to reimburse plaintiff the amount of $4429.45 as his share of the children's unreimbursed medical expenses and to pay $6855 in child support arrears; it further required defendant to reimburse plaintiff the sum of $27,627.35, representing his share of the parties' son's private school tuition and to continue to pay fifty percent of the son's private school tuition until graduation. For the reasons that follow, we decline to address the first order regarding defendant's passport; we reverse and remand the second order, however, to afford the parties the opportunity for oral argument on those issues.

The pertinent factual background may be briefly summarized as follows. The parties were married in 1989. A judgment of divorce nunc pro tunc was entered on February 13, 2003. An amended judgment of divorce was entered on April 30, 2003, which incorporated the parties' property settlement agreement (PSA). Pursuant to the PSA, plaintiff was designated the custodial parent of the parties' three children who were ages eight, six and two at the time of the divorce. Defendant's child support obligation was set at $1500 per month. The PSA further reflected the parties' agreement to share on the basis of fifty percent . . . by [defendant] and fifty percent . . . by [plaintiff] the expense of the children's day and child care, secondary school expenses, activities, lessons, tutoring, summer camp expenses and other children's "extras," as agreed upon by the parties, consent to said agreement not to be unreasonably withheld.

Thereafter problems apparently arose between the parties regarding the children, which resulted in the entry of an order on April 13, 2007, pursuant to a motion brought by plaintiff, providing, inter alia, that defendant continue in individual counseling and that the parties enroll in a parenting class and attend family therapy. That order provided further that "defendant [wa]s prohibited from removing the parties' children from the State of New Jersey without further [o]rder of the [c]court[,]" and compelled defendant to "surrender his passport (if available) . . . within five (5) days[,]" allowing it to be released "only for those purposes not involving the children . . . ."

On November 27, 2007, defendant filed a motion seeking to amend the requirements relating to his passport and travel with the children in the April 13, 2007 order. Defendant did not request oral argument on his motion.

On December 20, 2007, plaintiff filed a cross-motion seeking eleven forms of economic relief, including, inter alia, reimbursement by defendant for the children's unreimbursed medical and child care expenses; payment of $6855 in child support arrears; the return of funds withdrawn from the children's custodial accounts; and payment of defendant's fifty percent share of the parties' oldest son's private school expenses. Plaintiff requested "oral argument as to all issues[]" in her notice of motion.

On January 18, 2008, the trial court entered the two orders which are the subject of this appeal without holding oral argument.

Defendant filed his initial notice of appeal on February 29, 2008. Thereafter, following a pre-argument conference, we remanded the matter to the trial court with directions to "issue a written opinion or memorandum decision, finding the facts and stating the conclusions of law thereon with respect to paragraphs 2, 6 and 10 of the [January 18, 2008] order . . . ."

Defendant subsequently filed an amended notice of appeal on June 11, 2008, noting that he was appealing from "[p]aragraphs 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 10, 11, 13 and 14" of the January 18 order prepared by plaintiff's counsel; and "[p]aragraph[s] 1 and 2" of the January 18 order prepared by the court.

On July 30, 2008, the trial court filed its findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to our remand.

In his appellate brief, defendant informs us that "[p]aragraphs 3, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, and 14 of the trial court order of January 18, 2008 . . . are no longer issues which need to be considered on appeal." Thus the paragraphs of that order which remain in issue are: paragraph 2, requiring defendant to reimburse plaintiff the amount of $4429.45 as his share of the children's unreimbursed medical expenses; paragraph 6, requiring defendant to pay plaintiff $6855 in child support arrears; paragraph 10, requiring defendant to reimburse plaintiff the sum of $27,627.35 representing his share of the parties' ...


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