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Leff v. Leff

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 18, 2013

STEVEN M. LEFF, Plaintiff-Appellant/ Cross-Respondent,
v.
ROSE LEFF, Defendant-Respondent/ Cross-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued October 2, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FM-02-2786-11.

Steven M. Leff, appellant/cross-respondent, argued the cause pro se.

Arthur Del Colliano argued the cause for respondent/cross-appellant.

Before Judges Lihotz and Hoffman.

PER CURIAM

In this post-judgment matrimonial matter, plaintiff appeals from the November 30, 2012 Family Part order denying his motion to recalculate his child support obligation and related claims for relief; defendant cross-appeals from the part of the order denying her cross-motion for counsel fees. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.

I.

The parties were married in 2002 and divorced in 2009. They have one daughter, who was six years old at the time plaintiff filed the motion under review. The parties' Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) required plaintiff to pay defendant $264 per week in child support which included allocation of $224 in weekly day care costs.

On October 26, 2012, plaintiff filed a motion to modify his child support, arguing the day care costs on which the original order was based had declined substantially when their daughter entered first grade. He further sought to compel defendant "to provide financial discovery, including, but not limited to, a complete Case Information Statement[.]" Plaintiff also pursued enforcement of paragraph 4.2A of the PSA, which provided "Mr. Leff shall be entitled to receive a monthly statement from the daycare provider[, ]" and to receive a credit for any overpayment.

Defendant opposed plaintiff's motion and filed a cross-motion seeking various items of relief, including an award of counsel fees and costs.[1] In her supporting certification, defendant claimed that plaintiff failed to present a substantial change in circumstances in light of the fact his annual income had increased by $10, 000 since they signed their PSA. While she acknowledged that their daughter was "now in the first grade . . . [and was] no longer in full day care, " she claimed "the cost difference . . . is not significant" and certified the costs were $7625 for 2011 and $9167 for 2012. She further stated she anticipated spending approximately $5000 for summer camp the following summer. Defendant estimated her 2012 income at "approximately $35, 500 or so."

After reviewing defendant's certification, plaintiff filed a response wherein he calculated monthly day care at $415 per month. Plaintiff noted summer camp had always cost $1170, which he factored into his calculations. He also took issue with defendant's estimate of her 2012 income, citing the facts she had a side business with its own website and she owned a rental property.

On the record, the judge noted the PSA fixed day care costs at $224 per week. Despite the significant reduction in day care costs, the judge concluded plaintiff failed to establish a substantial change in circumstances and denied plaintiff's motion in its entirety. Additionally, the judge denied plaintiff's application to hold defendant responsible for plaintiff's failure to receive monthly statements. The judge further denied plaintiff any credit relating to his alleged overpayments from past statements. On defendant's cross-motion, the judge found plaintiff was in violation of ...


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