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Powell v. Powell-Buchanan

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 18, 2013

MICHAEL POWELL, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
CATHERINE POWELL-BUCHANAN, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 17, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FM-04-0824-01.

Catherine Powell-Buchanan, appellant pro se.

Robert A. Gleaner, attorney for respondent.

Before Judges Alvarez and Ostrer.

PER CURIAM

Defendant Catherine Powell-Buchanan, who is self-represented, appeals from a Family Part order dated November 16, 2012, denying her the following relief: 1) the "un-emancipation" of the parties' older daughter, born in 1990, and a plenary hearing as to child support; 2) contribution by plaintiff Michael Powell to the older daughter's college education; 3) custody of the parties' younger daughter, born in 1992, who had also previously been emancipated; 4) child support for the younger daughter; 5) compelling plaintiff to supply both children with health insurance to age twenty-six; and 6) compelling plaintiff to disclose information regarding the paternity of the younger daughter's child. The court granted plaintiff the relief he sought by way of cross-motion: that defendant pay him $2167.50 in attorney's fees and reimburse him for overpayments on child support of $2007.71, payable at the rate of $85 per week.[1]

Defendant is also self-represented on the appeal. For the reasons that follow, we vacate the portion of the court's order relative to child support for the older daughter, and direct that the court, after ninety days of discovery, conduct a plenary hearing. At that hearing, the court will determine whether the older daughter's academic status warrants entry of an order requiring plaintiff to pay child support, contribute to her college expenses, and contribute to certain obligations defendant incurred to assist the older daughter in funding her studies.

We affirm the court's refusal to: address the younger daughter's status as an emancipated child, order plaintiff to provide health insurance for the children to age twenty-six, [2] and compel plaintiff to provide information regarding the paternity of the younger daughter's child. On appeal, defendant also seeks to compel DNA testing of the younger daughter's child to verify the identity of the father, relief not mentioned in the order being appealed. That matter is so lacking in merit as to not warrant further discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).

Furthermore, we vacate the award of attorney's fees to plaintiff. No financial proofs were presented by either party that would have enabled reasoned analysis of the request. Moreover, the court did not make the necessary findings as required by Rule 5:3-5(c).

To summarize the factual and procedural history of this matter, the parties have two children who initially resided with defendant when the parties divorced in 2001 and entered into the PSA, which addressed the issue of child support, although several post-judgment applications have followed.

Relevant to the issues we address is plaintiff's 2012 motion to emancipate the older daughter, in which he alleged that she was employed full-time and was not enrolled in enough college courses to require him to continue to pay child support. Defendant opposed the application. She did not, however, supply proof of the older daughter's school enrollment, or her own growing indebtedness to fund the older daughter's education, until she unsuccessfully sought reconsideration immediately prior to this appeal.

As to the younger daughter, plaintiff obtained custody in June 2008. A disagreement with her resulted in him demanding in writing, on April 22, 2011, that she leave his home by June 1. In the letter, he advised his younger daughter that if she did not vacate the premises by that date, he would change the locks and move her belongings to a storage unit. The younger daughter and her child moved initially into an apartment, but, at some unspecified time, relocated to defendant's home. Defendant, ...


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