Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Post-Judgment Alimony Modification Remanded To Determine Income
Kaller v. Gogan, is a case out of the NJ Superior Court, Family Part, Morris County regarding Defendant's alimony obligation based upon the exchange of post-judgment modification Motions between the parties. On remand, the Family Court reduced the Defendant's alimony obligation to $164 a week. In previous proceedings, the Family Court reduced the Defendant's alimony obligation from $364 a week to $175 and then upon remand it was determined that the amount should be reduced again to $164 a week with $10 of that going towards an arrears. The net effect of this was to put the parties in equipoise with each party netting $368 per week based upon the Plaintiff's earnings of $12,000 and the Defendant's earnings of $32,000 per year. In the initial appeal the Appellate Court noted that it understood ". . . what the judge was attempting to do, [which was] to award plaintiff sufficient alimony so that each [party] 'will net $368 per week based upon Defendant's earnings of $32,000 per year'." On the second appeal, the Appellate Court was unable to understand from the testimony at the plenary hearing and the documents in the record how the Family Court judge arrived at the Plaintiff's salary of $12,000 per year. On appeal from a Motion for Reconsideration, the Defendant asserted that the court erred in making conclusions regarding the Plaintiff's salary and although the Defendant accepted the court's finding that his gross income was $32,000, he rejected that the Plaintiff's gross income, excluding alimony, was only $12,000. The Defendant believed that the Plaintiff's actual income was $21,112 based upon her reported average gross weekly income of $406 dollars for 52 weeks. According to the Appellate Court, if it could have determined the Plaintiff's earnings for the years in question from the record, it would have exercised original jurisdiction and set the amount of alimony itself in order to have brought the matter to a close. Rule 2:10-5; Accardi v. Accardi, 369 N.J. Super. 75, 91-92 (App. Div. 2004). Unfortunately, the record simply did not provide the court with enough information to do so. Therefore, the Appellate Court again remanded the case back to the Family Court so that the judge could explain the basis for how he determined the Plaintiff's salary. The Appellate Court ordered that this be done within 45-days. Being that the laws governing the issues involving alimony have recently been changed, it is very important that you seek out the advice of an attorney to protect your rights an entitlements. If you think that it may be beneficial for you to petition the court for a post-judgment modification of your alimony obligation it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about alimony, divorce, post-judgment modification , 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.