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Luis A. Negron v. Thelma M. Gardeslen


May 1, 2012


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FM-07-10509-91.

Per curiam.


Submitted December 7, 2011 -

Before Judges Lihotz and St. John.

Plaintiff appeals from a February 19, 2010 Family Part order denying his motion to reduce his child support obligation, to permit him to pay child support directly to his former spouse rather than through Probation Services, and to compel his daughter to seek Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Plaintiff argues that the court erred by not ordering his daughter to seek SSI benefits instead of her current Social Security Disability benefits. He further contends that the court erred by not ordering that his "child support payments reflect his lowered income and be deducted once a month to coordinate with retirement checks." We have considered these arguments in light of the record and applicable law and we affirm.

Pursuant to the parties' 1993 Judgment of Divorce, plaintiff was ordered to pay child support for his disabled adult daughter who is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. In 2009, plaintiff filed a motion to reduce his monthly child support payments based on changed circumstances, which he asserted were related to his reduced retirement income, and his daughter's Social Security income.*fn1 The motion judge, without a plenary hearing, found plaintiff had not adequately shown changed circumstances necessary to obtain relief.*fn2

Defendant opposed the request to pay her directly rather than through Probation Services, arguing it was plaintiff's habitual failure to make the required payments which formed the basis for the court's previous order mandating the intervention of Probation Services.

The motion judge ordered that "child support will remain unchanged[]" and declined to permit plaintiff to make direct payments of child support. Plaintiff appealed.

Plaintiff's primary contention appears to be that, if his daughter applied for and was granted SSI benefits, she would receive additional monthly income. Plaintiff contends that he would be entitled to credit because of the increased governmental benefits, which should reduce his monthly support obligation. Although the judge did not elaborate on the reasons for denying plaintiff's request to require the child to apply for SSI benefits, we conclude no error results because, as a matter of law, a child's receipt of SSI benefits will not reduce a parental support obligation.

The child support guidelines "prohibit SSI benefits received by the child from being deducted from a support award."

Gifford v. Benjamin, 383 N.J. Super. 516, 520 (App. Div. 2006). Further, "[t]he prohibition against crediting a child's SSI benefits against a parent's support obligation is accomplished by excluding SSI benefits from the definition of 'government benefits' that are to be deducted from the support award."


Regarding the remaining argument challenging the level of support, plaintiff has not articulated the error in the motion judge's ruling and has not provided documents necessary to fully inform appellate review of that issue.*fn3 Plaintiff, as a self-represented appellant, is held to the same standard for compliance with our court rules as a litigant represented by counsel. Rubin v. Rubin, 188 N.J. Super. 155, 159 (App. Div. 1982). We decline to address issues of those parts of the trial record not properly included in the record on appeal. See Society Hill Condo. Ass'n v. Society Hill Assocs., 347 N.J. Super. 163, 177-78 (App. Div. 2002).

We see no reason to disturb the motion judge's decision. Affirmed.

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