On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FM-07-1155-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 25, 2011
Before Judges Graves and Waugh.
Plaintiff Kurt Snyder appeals from Family Part orders dated October 23, 2009, and February 17, 2010, denying his request to reduce his child support and alimony payments to defendant Ellen Snyder, his former wife. We affirm.
The parties were married in 1990, and their judgment of divorce, which incorporated a property settlement agreement (the Agreement), is dated September 27, 2005. The parties have two children, ages fifteen and twelve. Both children have severe learning disorders and developmental delays and attend special needs schools.
At the time of the divorce, plaintiff was gainfully employed with Vernon Daniel Associates as a landscape architect, and he is still employed by the same firm. In a case information statement prepared during the divorce proceedings, plaintiff explained that his income varied from year to year:
Regular Salary is based on Profit Sharing only and varies year to year. A Salary Draw of $80,000/year is applied towards year-end profit share. My portion of profits in excess of $80,000 are paid in following year. In the event of a deficit or loss . . . the loss is deducted from the following year's salary.
Paragraph sixteen of the Agreement states that plaintiff's "gross 2004 income was approximately $150,000" and that defendant was unemployed. Based on plaintiff's income, the parties agreed plaintiff would pay defendant $1,360.66 per month for the support of the children, and alimony in the amount of $49,608 per year in equal monthly payments of $4,134.
In June 2009, defendant filed a pro se motion to reduce his alimony and child support obligations. In a certification dated June 20, 2009, plaintiff stated: "My current salary is $67,000 gross versus $150,000 gross prior to the divorce. The letter from my president of my company is not encouraging." The letter that plaintiff referred to, written by Thomas DeMuth on June 12, 2009, confirmed that plaintiff's "annual salary draw" was reduced from $80,000 to $67,000:
Over the past year, Vernon Daniel Associates has been negatively impacted by the downturn in the economy. Since the product we provide to our clients is considered a luxury item, we do not anticipate business improving until sometime in 2010.
Due to the poor economy and continuing losses experienced by the New Jersey office, Vernon Daniel Associates has decided to terminate the lease of our New Jersey office and warehouse. Kurt Snyder will remain in New Jersey as branch manager but will work from an office in his home.
In addition to closing our New Jersey office and warehouse, expenses have been aggressively reduced wherever possible. Effective January 2009, all branch manager salaries were reduced. In the case of Kurt Snyder, his annual salary draw was reduced from $80,000.00 to $67,000.00 and will remain so until business improves.
Defendant opposed plaintiff's motion, and she filed a cross-motion for payment of outstanding support arrears and other relief. In her certification, defendant stated that the children's needs prevented her from obtaining full-time employment. She also claimed that plaintiff's application was "brought in bad faith" because he had "a balance of over $46,800 in his checking and savings account, excluding the other investment accounts he lists." Defendant also ...