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Shuster v. Shuster

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 9, 2013

ACHSA SHUSTER, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JOHN SHUSTER, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued April 30, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FM-5947-89.

Lisa C. Krenkel argued the cause for appellant (Krenkel & Krendel, LLC, attorneys; Ms. Krenkel, on the brief).

Joan M. Donnelly argued the cause for respondent (Ocean-Monmouth Legal Services, attorneys; Ms. Donnelly and Jordan Dascal, on the brief).

Before Judges Waugh and St. John.

PER CURIAM.

Defendant John Shuster appeals from the August 1, 2012 determination of the Family Part denying his motion to modify his alimony obligation and for a plenary hearing to determine the financial situation of plaintiff Achsa Shuster. We affirm.

I.

The record reveals the following facts and procedural history.

The parties were married in 1974, and their son James was born in 1981. In 1988, plaintiff became physically and mentally ill and the parties separated. They divorced in 1991.

The judgment of divorce required defendant to pay plaintiff $250 per week in permanent alimony, and to maintain an insurance policy with plaintiff and James as beneficiaries. Defendant was the parent of primary residence for James. Plaintiff paid no child support. Although plaintiff was expected to contribute to James' college education, she did not do so. Soon after the divorce, defendant re-married.

Because of plaintiff's disabilities, she receives Social Security Disability benefits of $208 per month. However, alimony payments made her ineligible for Supplemental Security Income. At the time of the divorce, defendant was a veterinarian earning $39, 000 per year. He was employed by the Animal Hospital in Neptune, which he eventually purchased. In 1997, defendant and his current wife purchased the building that housed the hospital, which began to pay them rent of $1500 per month.

In April 2012, defendant filed a motion to modify alimony and for discovery of plaintiff's finances. Defendant was sixty-two years old and suffered from arthritis, ganglion cysts, and carpal tunnel syndrome. As a result of his health problems, defendant stated that his income had declined because he could no longer perform surgery. Defendant's physician agreed that he could not perform surgery or work full-time. Defendant filed a case information statement (C.I.S.) in 2012, as well as tax returns which established a decline in his income from $80, 278 in 2008, to $66, 820 in 2009, and $65, 215 in 2010; business and personal debt ...


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