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Pipitone v. Pipitone

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 12, 2013

DAVID A. PIPITONE, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
DINA A. PIPITONE, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 26, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Somerset County, Docket No. FM-18-1068-03.

Judith G. Amorski, attorney for appellant.

Weinberger Law Group, LLC, attorneys for respondent (Jessica Ragno Sprague, on the brief).

Before Judges Alvarez and Maven.

PER CURIAM.

In this post-judgment matrimonial matter, defendant appeals from the December 23, 2011 Family Part order that, among other things, affirmed plaintiff's entitlement to a $28, 620.92 credit towards equitable distribution. We affirm.

The parties were granted a Dual Judgment of Divorce From Bed and Board on September 15, 2004. The judgment included the parties' agreement to submit to binding arbitration to resolve the financial and equitable distribution issues related to the dissolution of the marriage.[1] During the years that followed, the parties engaged in substantial litigation regarding various financial matters. In an order issued on October 17, 2007, the court, among other things, modified plaintiff's responsibility toward certain marital expenses that were not contemplated or addressed in arbitration, and awarded him unspecified credits. On August 12, 2008, the court specified an amount of the credits and ordered that "[d]efendant shall receive all credits due and owing to him pursuant to the October 17, 2007 [o]rder of the [c]ourt, which are documented to be $28, 620.92."[2]

With regard to the contradictory reference to the terms "defendant" and "him" in the August 12, 2008 order, a December 17, 2010 order specified that "the parties raised the issue relating to the language of the August 12, 2008 [o]rder which does not clearly indicate who is to receive the credit of $28, 602.92."[3] The court directed the parties to investigate the issue and if they were unable to resolve the dispute, then it would be addressed by the court.

When the parties failed to reach an understanding, plaintiff filed a motion to correct what he asserted to be a clerical error in paragraph seven of the August 2008 order, which read that credits had been awarded to defendant rather than him, plaintiff. Defendant filed a cross-motion arguing that paragraph seven in the August 12, 2008 order had been crossed out by the motion judge. In reply, plaintiff provided the court with a transcript of the August 2008 proceeding and a clean, executed copy of the August 12, 2008 order.

On December 23, 2011, following oral argument, Judge Angela F. Borkowski rendered an oral decision and filed an eight-page statement of reasons. The judge was satisfied, upon a review of the transcript and order entered by the prior trial judge, as well as the FJD and prior orders, that adequate evidence existed in the record to establish a clerical error in paragraph seven of the August 2008 order. Accordingly, the judge affirmed that plaintiff was entitled to receive the $28, 620.92 credit towards his equitable distribution obligation. The judge also ordered defendant to pay plaintiff $38, 809.92 in full satisfaction of her obligation towards equitable distribution and unpaid counsel fees.

Defendant contends in this appeal:

A. The Arbitrator's Decision Should Not ...

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