April 25, 2012
SIMA MILGRAUM, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
SANDY S. MILGRAUM, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Union County, Docket No. FM-20-0005-03.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued April 17, 2012
Before Judges Fisher and Carchman.
In this appeal, defendant argues that the trial judge erred in refusing to conduct an evidentiary hearing to examine whether it was appropriate for the judge to order defendant, a practicing physician, to pay plaintiff $1,675 per week toward his alimony arrears in the approximate amount of $3,000,000.*fn1 We find no abuse of discretion in the entry of an order that -- if complied with -- allows this fifty-nine-year-old obligor another thirty-four years to fully pay plaintiff the alimony due her.
The parties were married in 1980 and had seven children; the oldest child was born in 1981 and the youngest was born in 1990. A judgment of divorce was entered in 1998. This is now the fifth time this matter has been before us. See Milgraum v. Milgraum, No. A-5655-09 (App. Div. May 25, 2011) (rejecting defendant's contention that his alimony obligation should be terminated earlier than the date of plaintiff's 2008 marriage based on a claim of cohabitation); Milgraum v. Milgraum, No. A-2840-05 (App. Div. June 13, 2007) (affirming the award of $5,929 per week in alimony and other relief); Milgraum v. Milgraum, No. A-3946-00 (App. Div. Jan. 27, 2003) (reversing and remanding for a hearing, in another vicinage, for the purpose of fixing the proper level of alimony); Milgraum v. Milgraum, No. A-2423-98 (App. Div. July 7, 2000) (reversing and remanding an alimony award because the trial judge considered marital fault).
This fifth appeal comes to us as a result of an order entered by the trial judge on August 5, 2011, which, in relevant part, ordered defendant to pay $1,675 per week toward the alimony arrearage and denied defendant's request for a plenary hearing on that subject.
In particular, defendant contends in this appeal that the trial judge did not properly weigh or consider his state tax liability in fixing his obligation to plaintiff. Defendant has asserted that the New Jersey Division of Taxation has a judgment against him in the amount of $116,826.91, and, as a result, had engaged in aggressive collection efforts, which included the occasional levying on his bank account.*fn2 At the time of the judge's ruling, defendant had not negotiated a payment schedule with the Division of Taxation. As a result, the trial judge --after accepting the accuracy of defendant's business income and his business and personal expenses, as revealed by defendant's case information statement -- estimated and deducted from defendant's net income $2,000 per month for the repayment of the state tax judgment. Defendant claims that the judge's assumption in that regard was speculative, and the impact of his tax liabilities on his disposable monthly income should have been further explored at a plenary hearing.*fn3 These and defendant's other arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We add only the following brief comments.
"[T]he enforcement, collection, modification and extinguishment of unpaid arrearages in alimony and child support payments are matters addressed to the sound discretion of the court." Mastropole v. Mastropole, 181 N.J. Super. 130, 141 (App. Div. 1981); see also In re Rogiers, 396 N.J. Super. 317, 327 (App. Div. 2007); Ribner v. Ribner, 290 N.J. Super. 66, 75 (App. Div. 1996). The judge was required, in the exercise of her considerable discretion, to set a repayment figure that would be fair from plaintiff's standpoint and at a level with which defendant could reasonably comply. Here, defendant -- in advocating for a lower repayment amount -- asserted his considerable tax liability; he admittedly, however, had not negotiated a payment schedule with the Division of Taxation and, therefore, did not provide the trial judge with the implements by which a more precise award could be imposed. In light of defendant's failure to present a clearer picture of his financial circumstances, the judge did not err in declining the invitation to conduct an evidentiary hearing and did not abuse her discretion in ordering repayment of the approximately $3,000,000 owed plaintiff at the rate of $1,675 per week.