On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Union County, Docket No. FM-20-1652-07B.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Wefing and Payne.
Plaintiff, James Nixon, appeals from a May 28, 2009 Family Part order denying his motion to correct an amended judgment of divorce entered on January 27, 2009, arguing that the amended judgment fails to conform to the terms that the parties orally placed on the record through counsel on June 24, 2008 following mediation by the trial judge.
The principal matter at issue concerns the agreement by defendant Renee Clarke Nixon to pay alimony in the amount of $16,000 per year for twelve years to plaintiff, to enter into a domestic relations order that would divide that portion of her teacher's pension earned during coverture equally with plaintiff, and to insure her obligation by maintaining employer-funded life insurance in the amount of two and one-half times her salary as of June 24, 2008 for plaintiff's benefit.
Plaintiff argues that the insurance obligation remains fully effective until defendant's pension is in pay status. Plaintiff argues that if defendant were to die prior to the day upon which defendant's pension became payable, the insurance proceeds would constitute a rough equivalent for the lost pension payments. Without that insurance, he would receive nothing, contrary to the agreement of the parties.
Defendant argues that the insurance collateralizes only the alimony obligation. Therefore, plaintiff's share of the insurance benefits should decrease as the period for payment of alimony progresses, and the benefit amount should remain directly proportional to the amount of outstanding alimony. As a consequence, when the alimony obligation ended, any insurance recovery would end, without regard to the status of defendant's pension.
These variant positions were discussed at length on the record on June 24. Recognizing that an agreement had not been reached by the parties on the issue, the trial judge adjourned the hearing and directed that the parties attempt to reach a settlement. Later that day, they returned. The following was placed on the record.
THE COURT: - Nixon. We're back on the record.
Mr. Mark, you have the floor. Do the parties have an agreement on the insurance issue?
THE COURT: What's the ...