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Davis Amedu v. Dorothy Amedu

July 18, 2011


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FM-13-0150-05C.

Per curiam.


Submitted June 6, 2011

Before Judges Reisner and Alvarez.

Plaintiff Davis Amedu appeals pro se an August 16, 2010 counsel fee award in the amount of $4606.24 granted to his former wife, defendant Dorothy Amedu Freeman. He also seeks to have us determine that defendant's attorney has "unjustly enriched" himself with plaintiff's portion of the proceeds of sale from the marital home. Lastly, he demands a formal audit of his child support account, alleging that the management of the account violated his due process rights and was in furtherance of a conspiracy between the staff and the Family Part judge to "cover up" for improper conduct on the part of defendant's attorney. We affirm.

By way of background, the parties divorced on January 30, 2006, and signed a marital settlement agreement that same date. The agreement called for plaintiff to pay both child support and alimony; the latter obligation ceased when defendant remarried. The agreement provided for further modifications upon the occurrence of enumerated events, such as the sale of the marital home. As a result, although plaintiff was initially obligated to pay $273.00 per month towards the support of the parties' children and $125 per month in alimony, his obligation was modified on September 4, 2007, to only $221.42 weekly in child support. Because of these adjustments, there have been drastic revisions to the arrears balance in his account with probation. Suffice it to say that, after the last adjustment and formal, court-ordered audit of the account immediately prior to the August 16, 2010 order from which appeal is taken, and a credit for a lump-sum payment towards arrears, the balance due from plaintiff to defendant was adjusted to $7030.12.

When the marital home sold on March 17, 2009, plaintiff's share of the proceeds were paid into defendant's attorney's trust account. Certain disbursements were made from the account and, because of the ongoing dispute between plaintiff and defendant, counsel did not release the balance remaining to plaintiff, who appears to have terminated his relationship with his own attorney around that time, and has represented himself thereafter. Because defendant's counsel retained the funds, plaintiff filed an ethics complaint against him.

The August 16 order required plaintiff to advance his share of the cost of preparing a Qualified Domestic Relations Act order (QDRO) for his pension. In the order, the court authorized payment of the fee, along with various other obligations, from plaintiff's share of the proceeds of sale being held in trust by defendant's attorney.

On August 20, 2010, the Family Part judge entered an amended order, included in the appeal, finding plaintiff in violation of litigant's rights by virtue of his failure to comply either with the 2006 agreement or a March 23, 2009 enforcement order. Plaintiff was also required to provide documentation for the preparation of the QDRO. Furthermore, the order states: "[t]he [p]laintiff is to correct his error of filing a 1099 in [d]efendant's name and is responsible for all costs associated with rectifying this error within thirty (30) days of the court's [o]rder. If the [p]laintiff continues to remain in violation of litigant's rights, the [d]efendant may apply to the court, upon notice to the [p]laintiff, for bench warrant relief."

In setting forth factual findings and legal analysis for the August 16, 2010 order, the court noted on the record that plaintiff had cross-moved for leave to file a complaint against the individual Monmouth County probation officer who managed his child support account. The Attorney General's Office had forwarded a letter to the court stating that plaintiff's "cause of action" against the officer was simply not sustainable.

The court said on the record:

What is absolutely clear is that the plaintiff is in violation of litigant's rights because he has been noncompliant with the order of March 23, [] 2009. That order in explicit language ordered that the plaintiff's total arrears were to be paid from the proceeds of the sale of the former marital residence. . . .

As part of the order of March 23, 2009, in addition to the issue of the arrears, the [c]court ordered that child support be recalculated. And as part of that remedy, the parties were given a 60 day discovery period in order to exchange case information statements, 2008 W-2 forms, 2008 tax returns, and three recent pay stubs.. . . .

Here, the defendant alleges and plaintiff has not disputed his failure to abide by the [c]court's prior order. His admissions here attempting to implead new parties raising a variety of allegations which I find to be wholly unworthy of belief and frankly were it not for the litigation [] privilege which Mr. Amedu enjoys probably would be subject to a cause of action grounded in libel, slander or malicious prosecution. . . . [I] look at both the language of ...

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