Alimony and Child Support Garnished From Man’s Wages Appealed
- July 23, 2014
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In the recent Appellate Division case, Reynaldo v. Reynaldo, the Defendant, Jorge Reynaldo appealed from a Family Court Order issued in 2013 that denied his Motion for reimbursement of alimony and child support amounts garnished from his accounts while he was incarcerated because they were excessive. The Appellate Division reversed the decision of the lower court and remanded the case back to the Family Court for reconsideration The parties in this case were married for approximately twenty (20) years and had three (3) children during that time. In 2009, they obtained a divorce, and the Defendant claimed that according to a property settlement agreement (PSA) filed with their divorce he was required to pay child support and permanent alimony to the Plaintiff. In 2011, he moved before the court for a reduction of these obligation amounts and was denied. In 2012, the Defendant filed a Motion in the Family Court seeking to be refunded for money that he argued was withheld improperly in violation of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), 15 U.S.C.A. Section 1673(b). He claimed that in February, March, April, and May of 2012, the Sheriff’s Office withheld too much money from his wages and that when he brought this to the Sheriff’s attention, he was ignored. According to Mr. Reynaldo, he told the Sheriff’s Office that his monthly salary represented his gross income and the garnishments that were being taken were excessive. Further, he also asserted that the Sheriff’s Office was deducting an additional cost of $10.00 per day from his income for the cost of spending nights in jail and being subject to an electronic tracking device. The Defendant argued that these excessive garnishments left him impoverished and unable to pay his taxes, rent, food, and other necessities. The Family Court denied his Motion citing that under Bergen County Board of Services v. Steinhauer, 294 N.J. Super. 507, 517-18 (Chan. Div. 1996), an individual’s support obligation could be suspended as a result of incarceration, but the court should consider the length of the sentence and the extent of other assets the obligor may have and that under this ruling suspension of support obligations would ordinarily not be appropriate when the sentence is less than one year. According to the Appellate Court, the Family Court did not address the main issue that the Defendant raised in his Motion. In fact, the Defendant did not seek a suspension of his child support and alimony obligations on the basis of his incarceration, instead, he sought reimbursement of the amounts of his income that exceeded the amount permitted by the CCPA and New Jersey law, in particular N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.9. The court held that because the Family Court did not address the principal issue raised in the Defendant’s Motion, it vacated the 2013 Order and remanded the case back to the Family Court for reconsideration on the Defendant’s main issue. If you anticipate that you may want to petition the court for a modification or alteration of your child support or alimony award or have any questions regarding alimony it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about child support, alimony, post-judgment modification, divorce, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way is intended to replace the advice of an attorney.