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Martin Quentzel v. Jeanette Masse


June 1, 2011


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Passaic County, Docket No. FM-16-1450-07.

Per curiam.


Submitted April 11, 2011

Before Judges A.A. Rodriguez and LeWinn.

In this post-judgment matrimonial matter, appellant Martin Quentzel's notice of appeal indicates that he "appeals from an order entered on September 11, 2009." There were two orders entered on September 11, 2009, and he does not indicate which parts or paragraphs of the orders are being appealed. Because parts of each order are not adverse to Quentzel's interest, the parameters of his appeal are imprecise. We note that only a party aggrieved by an order can appeal from it. Howard Sav. Inst. of Newark v. Peep, 34 N.J. 494, 499 (1961). Moreover, it is essential for an appellant to present an adequate legal argument, State v. Hild, 148 N.J. Super. 294, 296 (App. Div. 1977), which plaintiff also fails to do.

After ten years of marriage, Quentzel and Jeanette Masse were divorced on November 12, 2008, when their two children were ages nine and ten. Judge Michael K. Diamond granted a dual judgment of divorce and attached the parties' property settlement agreement (PSA) to the judgment. At the time, both parties were represented by counsel. The PSA expressly reserved child custody and related issues for a later hearing. At the time of the divorce, Quentzel was a mortgage broker and owner of a property management business. He now works as a realtor. Masse is a school teacher.

In the PSA, the parties agreed that Quentzel would buy Masse's half of the equity in the marital home and "remove" her name from the mortgage within sixty days. The parties agreed that the house was worth $600,000, but because there was a $218,000 outstanding mortgage on the residence, the PSA set the value of Masse's half at $191,000.

Both parties waived any right to alimony, and agreed to maintain COBRA insurance for the benefit of the children and "to share the . . . cost of any co-pay or uncovered medical/dental/health costs for the children until the final determination of all child related issues are adjudicated." The parties also agreed to leave the issue of their entitlement to future child dependency deductions to that future hearing.

Pursuant to the PSA, Quentzel immediately paid Masse $191,000 for her share of the equity in the marital home. He was unable to refinance the mortgage and sold the marital home for $585,000 or $15,000 less than its agreed value.

During the summer of 2009, Masse moved to enforce her rights, alleging that Quentzel had violated the PSA by failing to pay child support and half of the children's out-of-network medical expenses. She also sought an increase in his weekly child support obligation and an order compelling him to pay half of the costs of the children's 2008 and 2009 summer camp. After grants, the total cost of the summer camps was $3400.

Quentzel disputed the summer camp charges and the medical expenses. Quentzel cross-moved to enforce his rights, but did not provide any indication of the basis for the relief he sought.

After oral argument, Judge Diamond granted in part and denied in part each motion. On Quentzel's cross-motion, the judge found that Masse's late submission of medical bills did not violate any specific provision of the PSA. Going forward, however, if Masse chose to obtain out-of-network medical care she would have to consult Quentzel first. Judge Diamond also ordered Quentzel to pay half of the camp expenses and decided that each party could declare one child as a dependent for the 2009 tax year. The judge denied counsel fees to both parties. These rulings were memorialized in two orders entered on September 11, 2009.

On appeal, Quentzel contends that "the dual final judgment of divorce separation agreement . . . has been breached by [Masse] excusing any performance or claimed violation of litigant's rights on the part of [Quentzel]." He argues that Masse violated the PSA by accepting an advance payment from him of $191,000 for her half of the equity in the marital home because the house sold for less than its agreed value. This argument was not raised in the Family Part. An issue not raised before the trial court "will ordinarily not be considered on appeal unless [it is] jurisdictional or implicate[s] a substantial public interest." Cmty. Hosp. Grp., Inc. v. Blume Goldfadden Berkowitz Donnelly Fried & Forte, P.C., 381 N.J. Super. 119, 127 (App. Div. 2005). These exceptions do not apply here. Consequently, we will not consider this argument on appeal.

In any event, this contention is without merit. Quentzel agreed to purchase Masse's interest for $191,000. He sold the property for less than anticipated. That was his decision and he bears the consequences even if he sold the house to fulfill his obligation to "remove" her name from the existing mortgage.

Quentzel contends that Masse violated the PSA by seeking "non-disclosed debts during the time-period months prior to the date of the divorce and for months thereafter not agreed to be paid." According to Quentzel, Masse also breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The basis for these claims was Masse's use of out-of-network healthcare providers for the children.

We agree with Judge Diamond that Masse's use of out-of-network healthcare providers and late submission of bills did not violate the letter or spirit of the PSA. The judge appropriately warned Masse to obtain prior approval before using out-of-network doctors and to submit the medical bills to Quentzel in a timely manner. The PSA did not limit medical providers to those covered by the parties' insurance. Moreover, the children's healthcare providers were apparently the same as before the divorce. Counsel for Quentzel also admitted at oral argument that it was only the late submission of the bills that allegedly prejudiced Quentzel.

Quentzel also contends that Masse's "undue delay and the doctrine of laches without excuse, prejudiced [Quentzel and] thus, must bar [Masse] at this late date any right of recovery from [Quentzel]." We reject this argument on the merits for the same reasons stated above. We also note that Quentzel presented no legal citation or analysis to support this contention.

Quentzel also contends that Masse's "conversion of [Quentzel's] personal property and dependency tax deductions for the children without excuse has prejudiced [Quentzel] thus, giving rise to a right of recovery." He also alleges that Masse made knowing misrepresentations to Quentzel.

Much like his prior arguments, the discussion of these claims is devoid of citations to the record, legal citation or analysis. More important, however, is the fact that the issue of Masse's alleged misrepresentations was not before the Family Part. An issue not raised below can only be considered in limited circumstances. See Cmty. Hosp., supra, 381 N.J. Super. at 127. As noted previously, this case does not present any of those circumstances. Therefore, we determine that these arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).



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