On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Union County, Docket No. FD-20-350545-86.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 13, 2012 -
Before Judges Carchman and Maven.
Defendant Quintin M. Floyd appeals from an order of the Family Part denying his application to vacate child support arrears. The thrust of his claim is that, since 2008, he no longer had an obligation to provide child support because his child was emancipated since that time. We are constrained to reverse, less because we view the judge's ruling as erroneous but rather because the absence of a record, transcript and reasons limit our ability to determine whether the facts presented were considered regarding the issue of emancipation and vacation of arrears.
The limited record provided to us by defendant*fn1 asserts that in 2008, the child, then nineteen, went to live with defendant. The child was subsequently arrested and sent to a rehabilitation program. He continued to live with defendant. In the child's letter of June 18, 2010, addressed to the Union County Support Unit, he confirmed that he had "reside[d] at [defendant's residence] since January 30, 2008," and "request[ed] that all [arrears] be removed and my case closed as my dad is my sole provider and has been taking care of me since 2008." According to defendant, his son is not attending school; he receives social security benefits as well as Medicaid. Defendant also indicated that his son has been judicially declared emancipated, although no order appears in the record before us.
The order appealed from reveals little regarding the nature of the claim or the facts relied on for resolution. It notes the arrearages in dispute as of December 21, 2010, were $9,406. It then indicates the following:
On 12/21/10 the defendant Quintin Floyd appeared. The plaintiff, Ms. Hester did not appear. The application to vacate arrears is again denied. This matter was heard on 9/10/10. Further, a hearing officer heard the matter on 11/18/10. The hearing . . . was appealed and the trial court denied the appeal on the same issue Mr. Floyd raises today.
No other information regarding the nature of the application or relevant facts is forthcoming.
On appeal, defendant asserts that his application to vacate arrears was denied because of a "lack of enough proof of resident [sic] for my son . . . based on his abilities to self-support [sic] himself . . . ." Defendant then indicates that the judge did rule that the child was emancipated.
Again, we find this record to be inadequate to address the issue of defendant's responsibilities for the arrearages as well as the child's emancipation.
In concluding that this matter must be remanded for a hearing on the record as well as findings of facts and conclusions of law, we are mindful of the limitations contained in N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.23a (prohibiting retroactive modification of child support orders), but we also recognize that we have previously held that support and arrearages can be retroactively modified when the retroactive termination and elimination of arrearages is based on the emancipation of a child. See Bowens v. Bowens, 286 N.J. Super. 70, 73 (App. Div. 1995); Mahoney v. Pennell, 285 N.J. Super. 638, 643 (App. Div. 1995).
Again, we lack assurance that the facts as described by defendant are fully accurate as we do not have the benefit of a full record; nevertheless, we conclude that the interests of justice require that this matter be ...