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R.R. v. M.O.

March 26, 2010

R.R., PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
M.O., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division - Family Part, Passaic County, Docket No. FD-16-1086-09.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 8, 2010

Before Judges Baxter and Alvarez.

Defendant M.O. appeals from an August 12, 2009 Family Part order in which the judge refused to reconsider an April 3, 2009 order that had considerably expanded the parenting time afforded to plaintiff R.R. Defendant maintains that the judge erred when he granted the April 3, 2009 enlargement without requiring plaintiff to demonstrate that circumstances had changed in the one month that had elapsed since the parties agreed, by consent order, to the extent of plaintiff's parenting time. Defendant also maintains that the judge erred when he declined to reconsider his April 3, 2009 denial of her motions to increase child support, transfer venue and change the child's last name. Because defendant has failed to provide us with the portions of the record that are essential to our review, and which the Rules of Court require an appellant to provide, we dismiss defendant's appeal.

I.

The parties have one child, a son born in April 2008. By the time their son was born, the parties were no longer living together. It is unclear from the record whether any child support order was entered when they separated. In December 2008, defendant obtained a domestic violence temporary restraining order (TRO) against plaintiff. That TRO remained in effect until February 10, 2009, when defendant agreed to dismiss the TRO in exchange for an agreement specifying the terms and conditions of plaintiff's parenting time and his child support obligation. The parties' agreement on those subjects was incorporated in a February 24, 2009 consent order that designated defendant as the parent of primary residence and plaintiff the parent of alternate residence.

The consent order afforded parenting time with the parties' son as follows: on alternate Thursdays and alternate Saturdays from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m., and every Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The consent order also specified that plaintiff was responsible for payment of child support in the amount of $150 per week, noting that such child support was "based upon the calculations prepared by the Court and included in the Sole Parenting Worksheet annexed hereto."

On March 3, 2009, defendant filed a motion to recalculate the child support that had been awarded by the February 24, 2009 consent order, alleging the judge had failed to consider an increase in the daycare expenses she was paying, and that the judge incorrectly calculated plaintiff's pension deductions.

Plaintiff cross-moved for an increase in his parenting time. When defendant received plaintiff's cross-motion, she retained an attorney to represent her in opposing that application; however, because the attorney was retained only one day before the scheduled April 3, 2009 motion hearing, defendant's attorney directed her not to attend the court proceeding because he anticipated being able to obtain an adjournment. Her attorney mistakenly went to the Essex County courthouse rather than the Passaic County courthouse to address the judge concerning his adjournment request. With only plaintiff and his attorney appearing for the motion hearing, the judge granted plaintiff's motion for increased parenting time in its entirety. Defendant's motion for an increase in child support was denied.

The April 3, 2009 order increased plaintiff's parenting time considerably. Instead of the alternate Thursdays and alternate Saturdays, from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and consecutive Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., as set forth in the February 24, 2009 consent order, the April 3, 2009 order granted plaintiff parenting time each week from Thursday at 8:00 a.m. to Saturday at 10:00 a.m., and also afforded him alternating Saturdays until 8:00 p.m. The April 3, 2009 order also made provision for plaintiff's parenting time on certain holidays and during four weeks in the summer.

After learning that her lawyer had been unable to secure an adjournment of the April 3, 2009 motion hearing, and that the hearing had therefore been conducted in her attorney's absence, defendant discharged her attorney and wrote to the judge beseeching him to permit her to re-file her motion. In response to defendant's letter, the judge agreed on April 15, 2009 to stay the implementation of the April 3, 2009 order, provided that defendant "forthwith" filed a motion for reconsideration.

Defendant did not file the motion "forthwith" or within the twenty-day period specified by Rule 4:49-2. She apparently ...


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