On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Middlesex County, Docket No. FM-12-2478-07E.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Sabatino and Fasciale.
In this post-divorce matrimonial case, plaintiff-mother appeals from an order of the trial court modifying defendant-father's child support payments. We reverse and remand with instructions for the court to determine whether changed circumstances exist and, if so, to require the parties to submit current case information statements in accordance with Rule 5:5-4(a) and then conduct a full review of the parties' finances.
The parties married in 1999, had two children,*fn1 and divorced in 2008. On August 8, 2008, the court entered an amended judgment of divorce, incorporating the parties' property settlement agreement (PSA) and setting defendant's child support obligation at $350 per week.
In June 2010, defendant filed a motion to terminate alimony based on plaintiff's cohabitation and for changes to the parenting plan. Plaintiff cross-moved for various relief, including child support recalculation and private school contribution.
By order dated July 9, 2010, the court denied plaintiff's request for contribution to private school expenses, reasoning:
The parties' [PSA] does not obligate the
[d]efendant to share in the children's private school costs. The [PSA] only obligates the parties to split the children's necessary college expenses 50-50 at that point in time.
However, the court reserved on alimony termination and child support modification pending a plenary hearing. The court stated that "[i]n the event the [c]court modifies the [d]efendant's alimony obligation, the [d]efendant's child support obligation will also be affected."*fn2
The plenary hearing was held on December 2, 2010. On that same date, the court issued an order terminating alimony*fn3 and directing the parties to "submit their last three pay stubs[,] medical insurance information [and] work related child care expenses by 12/6/10 so that child support can be calculated."
On December 7, 2010, after the parties submitted the requested information, the court issued an order, without further briefing or argument, increasing defendant's child support payments to $388 per week. The order stated that the modified obligation had been calculated according to the parties' gross weekly incomes, plaintiff's net annual work-related childcare expenses, and the children's health insurance premiums.*fn4
On appeal,*fn5 plaintiff argues that the trial court failed to require current case information statements, as required by Rule 5:5-4(a) on a motion for child support modification. She also argues that the court incorrectly concluded that the PSA precluded consideration of ...