Argued February 3, 2015
Approved for Publication April 1, 2015.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Union County, Docket No. FM-20-380-09.
Glenn E. Gelband argued the cause for appellant.
Respondent has not filed a brief.
Before Judges REISNER, KOBLITZ and HIGBEE. The opinion of the court was delivered by KOBLITZ, J.A.D.
[440 N.J.Super. 147] OPINION
L.G-P. appeals from many provisions in a September 6, 2013 post-judgment order resolving her pro se motion to enforce child- [440 N.J.Super. 148] support provisions of the property
settlement agreement (PSA), entered into when the parties were divorcing in 2009.
The parties were married in 2006 and had their only child in 2007. They had agreed in the PSA to extensive communication about their child, as well as mediation if they should not agree, both of which require significant parental cooperation. Post-judgment litigation, however, began within a few months of their divorce judgment. A final restraining order (FRO), pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35, was subsequently entered against O.P. Because the motion court mistakenly enforced PSA provisions requiring mediation and frequent contact after the entry of an FRO, we reverse and remand for a plenary hearing.
In Part I of this decision, we provide the details of the child support provisions of the PSA and related motions between the parties. We provide this history not only to resolve this case, but also to illustrate how untenable constantly-changing child support payments may become, particularly after the entry of an FRO. In Part II, we explain why provisions of the preexisting PSA requiring mediation and parental communication should not be enforced after an FRO prohibiting contact between the parties is entered.
In the 2009 PSA, O.P. had agreed to pay L.G-P. child support of $135 each week plus 40% of the following: unreimbursed medical expenses; medical and dental insurance premiums; " reasonable extraordinary" expenses, which included school expenses and costs for sports; a yearly agency fee for the au pair service; the au pair's weekly salary; and the au pair's yearly education stipend. The parties agreed that child support obligations could be modified in the event of changed circumstances. One change of circumstances identified in the agreement was when O.P.'s daughter [440 N.J.Super. 149] from a previous marriage became emancipated. To secure their child support obligations, each parent agreed to maintain a $250,000 life insurance policy naming their son as the beneficiary.
If the parties were unable to resolve future disputes, they agreed to mediate the issues " through a mutually agreed upon mediator before seeking court intervention." After various motions were heard and decided by the court, an FRO was entered on December 3, 2010.
After the entry of the FRO, when the parties returned to court on a fourth set of pro se motions, the court ordered them to engage in mediation to resolve the issues underlying the motions. When their mediator later ended her private ...