On Appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FM-13-1960-99.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes, Gilroy and Nugent.
Defendant Susan T. Bloir appeals from three post-judgment matrimonial orders in which the judge reduced plaintiff Joseph D. Rindner's alimony and child support obligations, imposed a child support obligation on defendant, and denied defendant's motion for reconsideration of those decisions. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part, and reverse in part.
Plaintiff and defendant were married in August 1984 and were granted a dual judgment of divorce (JOD) in November 2001. Four children were born of the marriage: R.R. in 1985; B.R. in 1987; S.R. in 1989; and J.R. in 1991. The JOD incorporated a property settlement agreement (PSA) dated November 14, 2001, which addressed alimony, child support, and equitable distribution; and provided for joint legal custody of the children with defendant designated as the parent of primary residence.
When the parties entered into the PSA, plaintiff earned $92,000 per year and defendant earned $18,000 per year. The PSA required that plaintiff pay $271 per week in child support for the four children, and $200 per week in alimony. The parties recognized in the PSA "that once the children are in either high school, college and/or emancipated that [defendant] can be employed on a full-time basis." Consequently, the PSA provided that "[t]he youngest child's entry into high school may be considered as a change of circumstance for purposes of an alimony review for the Court." J.R., the youngest child, started high school in 2006.
Plaintiff now owns his own business selling hearing aids and accessories, and defendant holds two teaching positions. According to the parties' 2008 tax returns, plaintiff earned $79,500 and defendant earned $43,748. Plaintiff's business had gross receipts of $368,064, but an ordinary business loss of $14,277. Plaintiff paid $8,000 in alimony to defendant in 2008.
The parties filed a series of motions and cross-motions in 2007 and 2008. The family judge entered an order dated November 30, 2007, emancipating B.R., denying plaintiff's motion to terminate alimony, and increasing plaintiff's weekly child support obligation to $354; and an order dated September 26, 2008, emancipating R.R. and terminating plaintiff's alimony obligation. On November 21, 2008, the judge granted defendant's motion for reconsideration of the September order, reinstated plaintiff's alimony obligation, permitted plaintiff to file a motion to address modification of alimony, and ordered the parties to exchange current financial statements.
In December 2008 the parties filed cross-motions resulting in the judge entering a January 28, 2009 order that granted plaintiff's motion to reduce child support and alimony but did not fix a new amount for either obligation, and ordered the parties to provide updated financial information within thirty days. The order denied plaintiff's request, made in a certification but not in the notice of motion, that defendant pay child support for S.R. Finally, the order provided that plaintiff could file a motion for modification of alimony, and that either party could file a motion to address child support.
The parties subsequently filed cross-motions that resulted in an order dated August 31, 2009. The judge reduced plaintiff's weekly alimony payments to $125, ordered him to pay $168 in weekly child support for J.R., and ordered him to pay $200 per month to satisfy his support arrearages. The judge also ordered that defendant pay $108 in weekly child support for S.R. and denied her motion for reconsideration of the January 28, 2009 order. On October 30, 2009, the judge denied defendant's motion for reconsideration of the August 31, 2009 order, and granted plaintiff's cross-motion to have defendant's child support paid through the probation department by way of a wage execution. This appeal followed.
Defendant first contends the trial judge abused his discretion when he determined in the January 28, 2009 order to modify ...