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Jefferson v. Sullivan

January 27, 2010

JAMES B. JEFFERSON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
JOAN L. SULLIVAN, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Burlington County, Docket No. FM-03-1204-01-X.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 13, 2010

Before Judges Graves and Newman.

Plaintiff James Jefferson appeals from an order of March 6, 2009. We affirm.

The following background is necessary for an understanding of the issues raised by plaintiff. Plaintiff and defendant Joan Sullivan were married on September 7, 1991, and divorced on May 29, 2001. Three children were born of the marriage and are now eighteen, sixteen, and thirteen years of age. They are all boys.

The parties used a pro se divorce package and agreed that plaintiff would provide child support of $300 per week. He was then earning $500 per week as a self-employed personal trainer. They agreed to joint legal custody but that defendant would have primary residential custody.

Plaintiff has since engaged in a litany of litigation seeking a reduction of his child support. On February 1, 2003, he was denied custody of his children; he also sought credit of direct payments of child support, and that relief was denied.

On January 9, 2004, plaintiff's motion to reduce his child support obligation and obtain an audit of his child support account was denied by the court. In that order, the court also clarified his parenting time by memorializing his visitation to three weekends or six days per month.

Once again, on October 26, 2007, plaintiff's motion to reduce his child support obligation was denied, but the court granted his request for probation to audit his account. He has since sought further reduction in his support payments and was denied that relief on April 25, 2008.

In this most recent effort by way of a cross motion to defendant's motion for supervised parenting time because he allegedly did not furnish prescribed medication to his middle son, plaintiff sought reduction of the $1,200 per month child support which had increased because of a support arrearage payable in monthly installments as well as an increase in support due to the cost-of-living index percentage which was added to the child support amount.

He had previously been ordered to pay $780 in attorney's fees and conceded that payment had not been made. Plaintiff pointed out that he filed for bankruptcy in June 2008, that he listed defendant's attorney as an unsecured creditor, and that he has been making payments under an approved plan. He also indicated that child support arrears are also part of the bankruptcy plan and payments are made to the Trustee.

Before the trial court, he claimed that he earns $450 per week and has remarried with four step-children and a step-grandchild. At the time the final judgment of divorce was entered, the child support obligation was based on earnings of $500 per week. He further asserted that the $300 per week support obligation that he currently has is comprised of $206 per week in child support, plus $94 per week for defendant's living expenses. He also contended that his oldest son has asked to live with him and wrote a letter to that effect. Defendant denied that this is so. Plaintiff asked that the child be interviewed at a plenary hearing. Plaintiff additionally contended that his support obligation should be reduced because of the number of overnights that his three sons spend with him. Plaintiff calculated that he has had seventy-eight overnight visitations with the children. Defendant disputed his calculations.

In addressing the issues, the motion court granted defendant's motion to require that the middle son's prescribed medication be provided to him; denied that plaintiff's visitation with that son be supervised; denied a motion to incarcerate plaintiff for continued failure to pay counsel fees because the debt was now part of the bankruptcy plan and the court could not interfere with that plan; denied defendant's motion to suspend plaintiff's driver's license until he brings his child support arrears ...


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