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Kimberley D. Sorantino v. Douglas B. Sorantino

April 14, 2011

KIMBERLEY D. SORANTINO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DOUGLAS B. SORANTINO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cumberland County, Docket No. FM-06-359-07.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 13, 2010

Before Judges Sabatino and Alvarez.

Defendant Douglas B. Sorantino appeals from an August 14, 2009 order denying his motion: (1) to make previously awarded reductions in his child support and alimony obligations retroactive to February 11, 2009; (2) to further reduce child support and terminate limited duration alimony; (3) to permit him to cancel life insurance which secures payment of his limited duration alimony; (4) to find plaintiff Kimberley D. Sorantino in violation of litigant's rights for failure to respond to discovery demands or to comply with certain provisions of the parties' property settlement agreement (PSA) related to their children's automobiles.

In support of his appeal, defendant contends:

A. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE HUSBAND'S MOTION TO TERMINATE ALIMONY AND SUPPORT.

B. THE COURT'S AWARD OF ALIMONY AND SUPPORT ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY ADEQUATE, SUBSTANTIAL AND CREDIBLE EVIDENCE, AND THEREFORE, MUST BE REVERSED.

For the reasons that follow, we affirm, except that the matter is remanded for a hearing as to whether plaintiff's cohabitation should result in the termination or further modification of alimony.

Although represented by counsel in the trial court, both defendant and plaintiff now represent themselves on this appeal. The following facts are pertinent to our analysis. The parties married on February 14, 1987, and their two children are in college. Defendant was forty-two and plaintiff forty-one when the parties divorced on October 1, 2008. On that same date, the parties signed a PSA which was incorporated into their divorce judgment.

The parties agreed to share joint custody of the children, plaintiff being designated as the parent of primary residence.

Defendant was required to pay $200 in weekly child support plus one-half of the children's: college tuition and related expenses, car loan payments and car insurance, and uninsured healthcare costs. He was solely responsible for the daughter's orthodontic bills. Plaintiff was to continue the children's healthcare coverage through her employment as a school guidance counselor. Each party was required to maintain life insurance coverage of $100,000 per child, naming the other as beneficiary, until emancipation.

When the agreement was negotiated, defendant operated an established trucking firm trading as Sorantino Enterprises, Inc. It had twenty-six employees and approximately thirty-four tractor trailers and dump trucks. Defendant estimated his business liabilities at $1,628,924.75. The PSA did not call for plaintiff to receive any payment, nor any credit, on account of defendant's retention of the business. Defendant also retained ownership of two parcels of land. Presumably at least one was the business location. Defendant agreed to purchase plaintiff's interest in the marital residence, each party kept the retirement accounts in his or her own name, and paid for his or her own counsel fees.

Significantly, defendant agreed to pay plaintiff alimony in the amount of $800 per week for a term of six years as limited duration alimony. This figure was based on defendant's annual gross earnings of $250,000 and plaintiff's earnings of $70,000. Defendant was required to maintain a life insurance policy in the amount of $249,600, naming plaintiff as the beneficiary, which would decrease on an annual basis by the amount paid ...


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