Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Court Refuses To Modify Child Support Until Documents Were Reviewed
In Siegel v. Siegel, the Plaintiff appealed from a New Jersey Family Court Order that denied her Motion to obtain particular additional discovery from the Defendant regarding his financial status and that denied her application to re-evaluate his child support obligation until the court had the opportunity to review his financial documents. The Plaintiff and Defendant were marred in 1990 and divorced following a five (5) day trial in 2004. They had two (2) children, a daughter 1996 and a son in 1999. The parties' divorce judgment awarded residential custody of the children to the Plaintiff, with the Defendant having visitation rights. The Defendant was ordered to pay $400 a week in child support as well as 80% of their son's schooling expenses, and summer camp. In 2012, the Plaintiff filed a Motion that demanded an increase in child support and requested that the Defendant produce current income information and an updated Case Information Statement (CIS). In June of that year, the Family Court increased the Defendant's obligation to $546 per week. In 2013, the Plaintiff filed another Motion requesting, among other things, that the Defendant be required to "produce the last three years of income statements, bonus income information" and " all documentation that prove[d] justification for the expenses [were] in question on his newest 2012 CIS." The court issued an Order requiring that the Defendant, within thirty (30) days, produce the financial documents regarding his income that were requested but denied her request for all documentation justifying the expenses in the Defendant's 2012 CIS, on the grounds that such information was not relevant to the issues before the court. The court also denied her request that the Defendant's child support be modified until the court could review the aforementioned documents that it did order the Defendant to produce. The Plaintiff appealed. According to the Appellate Division, in the 2013 Court Order in question, the Family Court denied without prejudice, the Plaintiff's Motion to modify child support until the court could review the documents that it ordered the Defendant to produce. "Thus the order appealed from lacked the attributes of a final order." Leonard & Butler, P.C. v. Harris, 279 N.J. Super. 659, 662 n.1 (App Div), certif. denied 141 N.J. 98 (1995). Since the denial without prejudice was an interlocutory order, Plaintiff's appeal of that denial without prejudice must be dismissed. According to the court, it is well established that, "with very few exceptions, only an order that finally adjudicates all issues as to all parties is a final order and that an interlocutory appeal is permitted only by leave of our appellate courts." Grow Co. v. Chokshi, 403 N.J. Super. 443, 457-58 (App. Div. 2008) (citing Rule 2:2-3). As the court noted in Christensen v. Christensen, 376 N.J. Super. 20, 23-24 (App. Div. 2005), a trial order requiring parties to provide additional information to enable the court in a later order to make a final decision on the appropriate level of child support is "interlocutory" because the court "had not yet entered a final order concerning child support. Therefore, this part of the Plaintiff's appeal was dismissed. If you anticipate that you may want to petition the court for a post-judgment modification of your child support obligation it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about child support, post-judgment modification, alimony, divorce or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way is intended to replace the advice of an attorney.