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Case Law Review for the Week of July 15, 2014

Ferrer v. Reynaldo, Appellate Division, Unreported Decision (July 11, 2014): In this post-judgment matter, the Appellate Division reversed and remanded the ruling of the trial court, which had set the Defendant's child support obligation at the guidelines level for his unemancipated daughter while she was attending college. The Appellate Court noted that Appendix IX-A to R. 5.6A clearly states that the guidelines are not to be used to determine either the parent's share of college expenses or the child support obligation for a college student, although they can be used in the court's discretion for students who commute to college. Instead of utilizing the child support guidelines, the Court is required to review applicable case law and the relevant statutes, and should be made in light of all the financial circumstances of the parties and the children. The Court further acknowledged that child support and college contribution are discrete yet related obligations, noting that some expenses are subsumed by college expenses while others remain constant in addition to the college expenses.

Ruggiero v. Ruggiero, Appellate Division, Unreported Decision (July 15, 2014): In this post-judgment matter, the Appellate Division reversed the trial court's decision to deny the application to terminate alimony and remanded the matter for a new hearing. After acknowledging that the trial court correctly found that a change of circumstances existed, the Appellate Division determined that there was reversible error in the trial court's decision to reduce, as opposed to terminate, alimony based upon the fact that the trial court failed to consider evidence as to the payee's income and assets and incorrectly considered the payor's pension income in determining his ability to pay alimony despite the fact that the pension had been previously divided via equitable distribution. The Appellate Division stated: "the court was required to analyze both plaintiff's ability to continue paying alimony as well as defendant's continuing need for spousal support. However, in order to make an appropriate determination on these issues, it was necessary for the motion court to consider the financial status of both parties...Pursuant to Rule 5:5-4(a), once "the party seeking the alimony . . . relief has demonstrated a prima facie showing of a substantial change of circumstances, then the court will order the other party to file a copy of a current case information statement." See also Donnelly v. Donnelly, 405 N.J. Super. 117, 131 (App. Div. 2009)... In Innes, supra, the Court held that when an entire pension is "treated as an asset for purposes of an immediate offset equitable distribution award[,]" N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) "immunizes plaintiff's pension from consideration in alimony-modification determinations." 117 N.J. at 506."

For additional information about the case law set forth above, or to discuss your matter with an experienced divorce and family law attorney, please contact our office.

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