On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FM-02-1017-00.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 9, 2011 -
Before Judges Ashrafi and Nugent.
Plaintiff Ayodele Adeyeri appeals from that part of a post-judgment Family Part order that required him to pay a share of his daughter's education and activity expenses, and from the order that denied his motion for reconsideration. We affirm.
Plaintiff and defendant, Sandrine Desamours, were married in 1996 and divorced in 2000. Their only child, a daughter, was born in 1997. The judgment of divorce incorporated the parties' property settlement agreement (PSA), which provided, in part, that the parties would have joint legal custody of their daughter, but defendant would have residential custody. The PSA also required that plaintiff pay weekly child support of $322, and monthly payments of $150 to establish a college fund for the parties' daughter, the latter obligation to end when the payments totaled $100,000. When the parties were divorced in 2000, plaintiff was residing in New Jersey and earning $130,000 yearly; defendant was residing in Florida, earning $8,000 yearly, attending law school, and raising their daughter.
In August 2001, defendant enrolled the parties' then four-year-old daughter in the private "French Education System" in Miami, Florida. The child remains in that international system today, attending school in Tanzania. Throughout her young life, the child has participated in a variety of activities, including acting, dancing, gymnastics, piano, pottery, tennis, and swimming. She has also studied and become fluent in several languages. These activities currently cost her mother, the defendant, approximately $500 per month.
In August 2003, defendant began working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Her position required her to move first to the Dominican Republic, then to Cameroon, and later to Tanzania, where she and her daughter have resided since 2009. In the certifications defendant submitted to the trial court, she explained that when she resided in the Dominican Republic, the local schools were substandard and the only international school was a French system school. When defendant moved to Cameroon, she enrolled her daughter in the only available French private school, other Cameroonian schools being inadequate. Finally, in Tanzania, defendant enrolled their daughter in another French private school. The only other international school was "fully enrolled" and the local schools did not offer the same quality education.
Nine years after the divorce, in June 2009, plaintiff filed a motion seeking, in part, to decrease his child support obligation. Defendant filed a cross-motion seeking various forms of relief, including an order compelling plaintiff to contribute toward their daughter's tuition, activity, and health expenses. The court denied plaintiff's motion because he did not append to it a "prior case information statement or statements filed before entry of the order or judgment sought to be modified." See R. 5:5-4(a). The court also denied defendant's motion to compel plaintiff to share in tuition, activity, and health expenses because she had failed to provide documentary proof of those expenses. Both motions were denied without prejudice.
Five months later, in November 2009, plaintiff filed a motion seeking, among other things, an order modifying his child support obligation. Defendant filed a cross-motion seeking an order compelling plaintiff to share tuition, activity, and health expenses for their daughter, and other relief. On March 8, 2010, the court entered an order denying plaintiff's motion because he again had failed to append to his motion prior case information statements. As to defendant's cross-motion, the order provided:
The Defendant's cross[-]motion to require the Plaintiff to pay for his share of the parties' child's educational and activity expenses is granted. The Defendant shall provide the Plaintiff with proof of the parties' child's educational expenses within 30 days from the date that said expenses are incurred. The Court notes that the parties'
Property Settlement Agreement is silent regarding said expenses.
On April 5, 2010, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration in which he requested that the court modify his child support obligation, vacate that part of the March 8, 2010 order requiring him to contribute to his daughter's education, and direct defendant to provide him with a copy of their daughter's school schedule. The court entered an order on July 7, 2010, that in the first two paragraphs appeared to deny plaintiff's motion for reconsideration because it had not been filed within twenty days as required by Rule 4:49-2. However, in a subsequent paragraph, the order stated, "Plaintiff's motion to recalculate his child support obligation to the Defendant is granted."*fn1 The court decreased plaintiff's weekly child support obligation to $213, retroactive to April 6, ...