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Frances J. Hoffman v. Bruce W. Hoffman

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


December 2, 2011

FRANCES J. HOFFMAN, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
BRUCE W. HOFFMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FM-13-908-98A.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued November 7, 2011

Before Judges Parrillo and Skillman.

Defendant Bruce W. Hoffman appeals from the April 14, 2011 order of the Family Part denying his application to terminate his spousal and child support obligations and for other relief, and from the June 16, 2011 order denying his motion to stay wage garnishment for his support obligations. We affirm.

Defendant and plaintiff Frances J. Hoffman were married on October 17, 1981 and divorced by final judgment (FJD) dated January 19, 2000, which incorporated a property settlement agreement (PSA). Repetitive litigation ensued in the aftermath of the divorce, initiated largely by defendant. In a previous opinion, we affirmed the Family Part's September 5, 2003 order denying defendant's motion to terminate alimony and child support and re-determine equitable distribution following a plenary hearing. Hoffman v. Hoffman, A-0986-03T2 (App. Div. May 27, 2004).

More recently, on July 9, 2010, the Family Part denied an application by defendant, basically identical to the motion underlying the instant appeal, to terminate or stay his spousal and child support obligations; to compel plaintiff to pay a $20,000 retainer fee; and to compel the participation of the court-appointed receiver in that proceeding. Only seven months later, on February 18, 2011, defendant moved for the same relief, primarily to terminate child support and alimony. Apparently viewing defendant's repetitive filings as frivolous and harassing, the Family Part relieved both plaintiff and the receiver of the need to respond to motions filed by defendant unless otherwise directed and by order of April 14, 2011, denied defendant's application in full. Finding relief barred by the doctrine of res judicata, the court reasoned:

Throughout the pendency of the litigation in this case, motions for reconsideration brought by the defendant have been denied, appeals made by the defendant to the Appellate Court have been denied, and petitions filed by the defendant with the Supreme Court have been denied. Today, the Court is again faced with applications that have previously been made by the defendant and addressed by other Courts. As such, this Court finds the defendant's applications are barred by the doctrine of res judicata and denies the defendant's motion in its entirety.

Defendant thereafter filed a motion for a stay of wage garnishment pending appeal, which the Family Part judge denied by written decision of June 16, 2011:

On April 14, 2011, this Court denied the defendant's application for a stay of his alimony and child support obligations. . . . Today, with his application to "stay wage garnishment," the defendant has made yet another request for the suspension of the enforcement of his support obligations. Like the previous occasions, this Court finds the defendant's application is barred by the doctrine of res judicata and denies the defendant's application.

On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying him relief. We are satisfied that defendant's arguments in support of his challenge are completely without merit, Rule 2:11-3(e)(1)(E), and accordingly affirm substantially for the reasons stated by the Family Part judge in her written decisions of April 14, 2011 and June 16, 2011.

Affirmed.

20111202

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