September 10, 2009
CHERYCE MAY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
MATTHEW MOLNAR, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Family Part, Morris County, Docket No. FD-14-000308-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 2, 2009
Before Judges Payne and Waugh.
Defendant, Matthew Molnar, the unwed father of a child born to Cheryce May, appeals from the order of a hearing examiner increasing the amount of his child support, calculating arrearages, and requiring their payment. On appeal, Molnar argues that May's motion indicated only that she sought payment of child support through probation, not that she sought arrears or an increase in child support. Therefore, he did not attend the hearing, regarding entry of an order requiring payment through the probation department as inevitable.
The motion filed by May indicated that she sought modification of an order dated January 31, 2008 and that the relief sought was "support" and "medical coverage."*fn1 She indicated that a hearing was being requested because "Matthew is not responsible as far as giving me money on time, and I have received bounced checked [sic] from him that have caused my account to overdraw. So I would like the money directly transferred into my acct."
As defendant notes, Rule 1:6-2(a) requires that any motion state "the grounds upon which it is made and the nature of the relief sought." Such a requirement inheres in the concept of due process, which requires "notice defining the issues and an adequate opportunity to prepare and respond." McKeown-Brand v. Trump Castle Hotel & Casino, 132 N.J. 546, 559 (1993). Because May's notice of motion was silent as to her request for arrears and an increase in child support, due process was not accorded in this case. Molnar was not aware, and could not reasonably have been expected to be aware of the nature of the relief afforded in this matter, and in the circumstances, his failure to respond to May's motion was reasonable.
We therefore reverse and remand for a new hearing, following proper notice as to the relief sought.