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Rucker v. Rucker

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 21, 2013

KAREN LEVINE RUCKER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
BRIAN RUCKER, Defendant-Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued January 22, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Burlington County, Docket No. FM-03-1031-97.

Karen Levine Rucker, appellant pro se.

J. Patrick McShane, III, argued the cause for respondent (Forkin, McShane, Manos & Rotz, attorneys; Mr. McShane, on the brief).

Before Judges Graves and Guadagno.

PER CURIAM

Plaintiff Karen Levine Rucker and defendant Brian Rucker were married in 1984 and divorced in 1999. Two children were born of the marriage: Miriam, born in 1989, graduated from Rutgers University in Camden in June 2012; and Elana, born in 1993, is currently enrolled at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Plaintiff appeals from two post-judgment matrimonial orders. The first, dated January 6, 2012, determined the parties' obligations for their children's college costs. The second, dated February 24, 2012, denied plaintiff's motion for reconsideration and granted portions of defendant's cross-motion for reconsideration. For the reasons that follow, we affirm both orders.

This is the third appeal involving these parties.[1]Following the second appeal, the parties entered into a consent order on March 7, 2005. Pursuant to the consent order, defendant paid plaintiff "the sum of $50, 000 . . . to resolve all equitable distribution, child support or counsel fee issues raised on appeal or otherwise." The order constituted a "final resolution of financial issues except for child support." However, the consent order did not address college costs.

In December 2011, plaintiff filed a motion to "compel defendant to pay for college costs." At that time, Miriam was a senior at Rutgers University in Camden, and Elana was also attending Rutgers University in Camden, but planned to transfer to Rutgers in New Brunswick and live on campus.

Plaintiff's case information statement (CIS), submitted in support of her motion, stated she earned approximately $96, 119 in 2010 and had a net worth of $518, 379.75. According to defendant's CIS, dated December 26, 2011, he earned approximately $107, 000 in 2010 and had a net worth of $642, 631. The parties appeared pro se at oral argument on January 6, 2012, and plaintiff stated her salary was $87, 000 and it would increase to $90, 000 "sometime in January." However, her pay statement for the period ending November 18, 2011, showed year-to-date gross wages of $95, 408.36. Defendant stated his current salary was "approximately $109, 000" per year. His pay statement for the period ending December 3, 2011, showed a year-to-date salary of $119, 238. But defendant explained his relocation from Washington D.C. to Georgia resulted in a salary reduction because of a "locality difference."

Following oral argument, the court ordered the parties to share the costs of tuition, room and board, "based upon the percentages of their incomes, 46% for plaintiff (using $90, 000 annually) and 54% for defendant (using $109, 000 annually)." The court stated:

[W]e have to address the issue of contribution for college education. And, for purposes of computing . . . the income of the parties, the income of the plaintiff . . . is somewhat inflated as a result of overtime. And . . . she has indicated she does not anticipate that she is going to receive that type of overtime opportunities going forward.
She testified that her base salary is $87, 000 and she, candidly, anticipates a three percent raise pursuant to contract, which would ...

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