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Dolan v. Dolan

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 18, 2013

MARGARET DOLAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
EDWARD DOLAN, JR., Defendant-Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 12, 2012

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FM-04-1014-09.

Margaret Dolan, appellant pro se.

Adinolfi and Lieberman, P.A., attorneys for respondent (Kimberly A. Reiser, on the brief).

Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Nugent.

PER CURIAM.

Plaintiff, Margaret Dolan, appeals from certain provisions of a July 28, 2010 Final Judgment of Divorce (Amended), entered following a seven-day trial. She contends: her alimony award is inadequate; two of her sons should not be required to repay part of the debt they incurred to attend college; and she should not be responsible for certain marital debts. Plaintiff also asserts that defendant's share of the proceeds from a marital asset should be placed in trust to secure his support obligations in the event of his death, and challenges as inadequate the amount of counsel fees the court awarded to her. Having considered plaintiff's arguments in light of the record and applicable law, we affirm.

I.

The parties married on July 24, 1982, and have three sons. Their oldest son is deceased. Their other sons are ages twenty-five and twenty-three. Plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce on January 6, 2009, and defendant filed an answer and counterclaim on February 13, 2009. Unable to resolve any of their differences, the parties tried their dispute during seven days in April 2010. They developed the following proofs during the trial.

Plaintiff, age fifty-three at the time of trial, was born in Poland where she attended school through eighth grade. She came to the United States when she was seventeen years old. She received a G.E.D. in approximately 1990 after first failing, but then passing the required test. When she met defendant in 1981, she was working as a dancer. She signed an antenuptial agreement before marrying him.

Defendant has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration that he received in 1978 from Widener College. Following graduation, he worked for approximately six to eight months as a project manager on a single-family-home development in Chicago, then returned to help his father with the family construction and demolition business. He also did some modeling and acting. Defendant was living in a home on Miller Avenue in Gloucester City when he met plaintiff and she moved in with him in 1981.

Plaintiff stopped dancing not long after she met defendant. She worked in retail at various places, including John Wanamaker, Cumberland Farms, and a beauty salon. After the birth of the parties' third son in February 1990, plaintiff worked at a beauty salon for approximately six months, but did not return to work as a full-time employee thereafter. During the marriage, she was primarily the family's homemaker. She cleaned the house, cared for the children, and took care of the yard, including cutting the grass and planting flowers. During the course of her marriage, she repainted the walls in every room of the parties' home. She also was involved with her children's athletic endeavors, including once going to Georgia with her youngest son when he played in a national basketball tournament.

At age forty, plaintiff developed rheumatoid arthritis. She testified during the trial that she was currently under the care of a rheumatologist, cardiologist, pulmonologist, and neurologist. She suffered from chronic pain, which worsened during the evening, making it difficult for her to sleep for more than two or three hours at night. She was also seeing a psychologist and attending an organization called Compassionate Friend to help her cope with the loss of her oldest son, who had died in December 2008. Plaintiff described her health as very poor. Before the trial ...


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