August 25, 2009
PETER J. GARFINKEL, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
LORI L. GARFINKEL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
PETER J. GARFINKEL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
LORI L. GARFINKEL, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Morris County, Docket No. FM-14-1203-01.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted May 19, 2009
Before Judges Wefing, Parker and LeWinn.
In these two appeals, the Garfinkels continue their litigation which began on March 27, 2001 when plaintiff Garfinkel (Peter) filed the complaint for divorce. Defendant Garfinkel (Lori) filed a counterclaim alleging transmission of sexual disease; negligent infliction of emotional distress; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and wiretapping. The parties engaged in an extremely litigious pendente lite period. A judgment of divorce was granted on June 28, 2004 after a lengthy trial. The judgment was appealed and in a decision rendered on June 8, 2006, we affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part for reconsideration of certain issues. Garfinkel v. Garfinkel, No. A-4500-03T2 (App. Div. June 8, 2006).
Lori moved to enforce her rights to childcare payments and on August 18, 2006, Judge Stephan Hansbury entered an order finding Peter in arrears for childcare payments in the amount of $3,631.14 and ordered him to pay $945 per month. This motion was unopposed.
Peter thereafter moved for reconsideration of the August 18, 2006 order, claiming he had not been served with Lori's motion. On October 23, 2006, Judge Hansbury entered an order rescinding the August 18, 2006 order as of September 21, 2006. Peter was still required to pay $945 for the month of August 18 to September 21, 2006. Notwithstanding rescission of the August 18 order, a warrant was issued for Peter's arrest for non-payment of childcare arrears.
After the remand hearing, on December 20, 2006, Judge Hansbury entered an amended dual judgment of divorce specifically addressing the issues we had directed for reconsideration.
The parties continued their post-judgment litigation and in an order entered on February 7, 2007, Judge Hansbury required Peter to pay $945 in childcare arrears but rescinded the warrant for his arrest. In his oral decision, Judge Hansbury stated:
[The] August 18th order, I intended to rescind everything. Wipe out arrears, remove the nine-forty-five, everything . . . . Now because [Peter] . . . put himself in this position I thought it was fair that we continue the nine-forty-five for the period of August 18th to September 21, but I removed all the arrears. That's what I intended to so.
Now in terms of any application today by [Lori] to impose any order upon [Peter] to pay medical insurance or childcare, there's not enough information here, there's no evidence of any judgment or order upon which -- establishing the legal right presented in the papers and they have to be presented in the papers so that application is denied.
In Docket No. A-3844-06T3, Lori appeals from the February 7, 2007 order and argues that the trial court erred in failing to consider the June 28, 2004 supplemental judgment of divorce, which required defendant to pay sixty percent of childcare costs approved by the parties. Peter maintains, however, that the trial court correctly rescinded the April 18, 2006 order because Lori failed to comply with the terms of the divorce, which required her to contact him about daycare or send daycare proposals to him in writing.
We have carefully considered the arguments of the parties on this appeal in light of the record and the applicable law. We are satisfied that Lori's arguments lack sufficient merit to warrant further consideration in a written opinion. We affirm Judge Hansbury's order of February 7, 2007 substantially for the reasons stated in his oral decision rendered on the record of that date. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). Judge Hansbury's decision is adequately supported by the substantial credible evidence in the record. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A).
In Docket No. A-2072-07T3, Peter appeals from an order entered on November 14, 2007 directing him to pay rehabilitative alimony from March 11, 2004 to July 1, 2004 in the amount of $1,000 per month and from July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006 in the amount of $500 per month. The order further directs Peter to pay child support in the amount of $234 per week from March 11, 2004 to July 1, 2005 and in the amount of $244 per week from July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006. Thereafter, child support was set at $263 per week in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines (Guidelines). That same order directed Peter to pay a total of $11,067 in arrears. Judge Hansbury attached the Child Support Guidelines worksheet and a letter opinion to that order.
With respect to the rehabilitative alimony issue, Judge Hansbury undertook a detailed analysis of the statutory factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) and concluded that defendant was, in fact, entitled to rehabilitative alimony for the period from March 11, 2004 through July 1, 2006. The judge set forth the amounts upon which it based its calculations and determined that no alimony was due after July 1, 2006 because Lori "should then have fully implemented the plan to become self-sufficient," which contemplated that she would "move up the economic ladder . . . with some speed." By that time, Lori was earning $34,380 per year, representing the fiftieth percentile for mental health counselors, her professional field.
Peter argues that the information provided to the trial court by Lori "was false, fictitious and fabricated." He maintains that "[t]here is no sound basis for any rehabilitative alimony in this case." He offers no proof of the falsity of Lori's submissions, however, and we are bound by the credibility findings of the trial court. State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 470-71 (1999).
We have carefully considered the arguments of the parties on this appeal in light of the applicable law and we are satisfied that Peter's arguments lack sufficient merit to warrant further consideration in this written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). Judge Hansbury's letter opinion is supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A).
To summarize our decision in these two appeals:
1. The order entered on February 7, 2007, appealed under Docket No. A-3844-06T3, is affirmed.
2. The order entered on November 14, 2007, appealed under Docket No. A-2072-07T3, is affirmed.