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Ehmann v. Ehmann

May 21, 2010

ROBERT EHMANN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CANDY EHMANN, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FM-13-1772-04C.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued April 14, 2010

Before Judges Cuff and Waugh.

Plaintiff Robert Ehmann appeals an order of the Family Part denying his request for termination or a downward modification of his alimony obligation to defendant Candy Ehmann, his former wife.*fn1 He also contends that the Family judge erred in calculating his child-support and educational-support obligations. We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I.

The parties were married in December 1979. Two sons were born of the marriage. The older son is emancipated. The younger son was born in November 1988. Although he is now twenty-one years old, the younger son has not been emancipated and is apparently still pursuing post-secondary education.

The parties divorced in 2005, after more than twenty-five years of marriage. At the time, Robert was employed by Colgate Palmolive as a computer operator. He earned a gross annual income of $56,760. Candy's only source of income was her Social Security disability in the amount of $740 per month, or $8,880 per year.

The parties entered into a property settlement agreement (PSA) that was incorporated into the final judgment of divorce. Robert agreed to pay Candy permanent alimony in the amount of $250 per week until the younger son's emancipation, and $300 per week thereafter. The calculation was apparently based upon the parties' then income. The PSA reflected the fact that Candy would be unable to maintain the standard of the marital lifestyle without the alimony arrangement.

In the PSA, the parties also agreed that Candy would remain in the marital home located in Keansburg, but would pay $54,000 to Robert, presumably representing one-half of the total equity in the marital home. Candy also agreed to pay $12,150 to Robert, representing her one-half of the marital debt. Thus, the PSA required Candy to pay a total of $66,150 to Robert.

The PSA established the following payment schedule: (1) $42,500 would be paid to Robert once the parties refinanced the marital home; and (2) the remaining $23,650 would be given as a credit towards Candy's share of the equitable distribution of Robert's 401K plan. According to the PSA, Robert had a personal retirement account with Colgate Palmolive with an approximate value of $109,490, and a savings and investment plan worth approximately $222,176. These funds were to be split between the parties, subject to the credit due to Robert.

The PSA also required Robert to pay $100 per week in child support for the younger son until his emancipation, which would apparently not occur until his completion of post-secondary education.

Regarding post-secondary educational expenses, the PSA recognized the duty of both parents to provide financial assistance in accordance with Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529 (1982). The parties agreed to contribute to the educational costs, after the younger son had applied for all possible financial aid.

Finally, Robert agreed to maintain health insurance coverage for the younger son. Under the PSA, Candy would be responsible for the first $250 of the son's un-reimbursed medical expenses, and thereafter the parties would split the ...


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