May 22, 2012
CAROL HEFFERNAN, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
EDWARD HEFFERNAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 26, 2012 -
Before Judges Parrillo and Alvarez.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Passaic County, Docket No. FM-16-0825-01. Edward Heffernan, appellant pro se. Respondent has not filed a brief.
On June 13, 2011, defendant Edward Heffernan's motion to emancipate his twenty-year-old child, thereby terminating an order of child support, was denied. Also denied was his application to retroactively modify child support arrears.
Defendant asserted as a basis for modification that the orders were entered in the absence of accurate financial information, and in any event, now require modification because his only current source of income is Social Security disability benefits. We affirm, without prejudice to defendant's right to seek a reduction of his ongoing child support obligation and payments towards arrears.
The record provided by defendant, who was pro se before the trial judge and is pro se on appeal, is limited. From the documents provided, however, we glean that in 2002 the child support order was modified from $285 per week to the current figure of $101 per week. Defendant is required to pay an additional $60 weekly towards arrears. Effective August 15, 2010, defendant commenced receiving monthly Social Security disability benefits of $1534 after suffering severe cardiac problems.
In denying the application, despite defendant's purported change in financial circumstances, the trial judge said, "plaintiff [Carol Heffernan] has furnished documentary proof that the parties' daughter will be attending college in the
[f]all [of] 2011." The child is therefore not legally considered emancipated and the Family Part judge did not err by denying the request. See Bishop v. Bishop, 287 N.J. Super. 593, 598 (Ch. Div. 1996). The judge added that courts are prohibited from retroactively modifying child support arrears. See N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.23(a). This too is a correct statement of the law.
On appeal, defendant merely reasserts his request to emancipate his daughter and to vacate arrears. He does not present us with any fact or law that would constitute error on the part of the trial judge.
We note, however, that defendant did not ask the court below for an audit of his child support account, request a reduction in ongoing child support, or request a reduction in the weekly sum taken from his disability income in satisfaction of his outstanding arrears. Hence this decision does not prejudice his right to seek that relief.
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