Child Support Arrears PLUS Interest for Essex County Man
- May 19, 2014
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In recent Essex County case, Harrison v. Gordon, on appeal the Defendant, Anthony Gordon, argued that the Family Court judge erred in making him pay child support arrears and interest upon them because Probation has made a miscalculation on the amount. The parties in this case were married in 1989 and had a child one year later. In 1995, they decided to obtain a divorce. A property settlement agreement (PSA) was incorporated into their final judgment of divorce which included a provision that specified that the Defendant would pay $4,500 a month in child support which was to be reduced to $2,500 a month when the parties’ marital residence was sold. This home was sold in 1997. The Defendant failed to pay his full child support obligation for many years afterward. In 2003, the Defendant submitted a motion to reduce his obligation and a court order was issued reducing his obligation to $1,250 which equaled $750 in continuing child support and $500 toward his overall arrearage, but the judge at that time did not set forth the full amount of child support arrears that was due. In 2004, the judge determined, by court order, that $264,000 was the arrearage amount. The Defendant appealed the 2003 and 2004 court orders. The Appellate Court at that time reversed and remanded the case back to the Family Court for “reconsideration of the current child support obligation.” Harrison v. Gordon, No. A-2193-03 (App. Div. 2005). In 2005, the Family Court judge issued another order which reallocated the $1,250 a month child support obligation to reflect $500 for continuing child support and $750 toward the Defendant’s arrears. Once again, the Defendant argued that he was not credited for $55,000 in unaccounted payments toward his arrearage. The judge gave the Defendant 90 days to provide proof of his claim and directed that in the event that the proof was not forthcoming, the judgment of $209,000 set forth in that order shall be increased automatically to $264,000. The Defendant failed to provide such proof. The matter came before the court again in 2008 upon the Plaintiff’s application to accelerate the Defendant’s child support obligation by doubling his monthly amount so that she and he could meet their daughter’s college education expenses. The parties agreed that the obligation would be increased but that the Defendant would receive an additional credit against his total arrears for doing so – he would get $6,000 a year off of his arrearage for agreeing to the double payments. An order to this affect was issued and things proceeded well for the next four years. In 2012, when the parties’ daughter graduated college the Defendant quickly moved to establish her emancipation and the Plaintiff cross moved to establish the Defendants total arrearage amount. A new judge heard the case and ordered that the Defendant owed $81,810.17 in arrears and discovered that the Probation Department never added the $55,000 required by the 2005 order and therefore the judge ordered that the Defendant pay $1,500 a month against the arrears. The Defendant appealed this order arguing that the court improperly upheld the parties’ agreement for arrears as ordered in 2008 and the court erred by ordering the Defendant to pay $55,000 additional arrears because of Probation’s mistake. Further, he argued that the court erred in ordering him to pay interest on the outstanding judgment for child support because collection on any outstanding judgment was denied and its enforcement denied in a 2004 court order. The Appellate Court found insufficient merit to warrant a lengthy discussion in a written opinion on the Defendant’s first argument, except for citing that as revealed by the history of the case, a long dispute existed regarding the $55,000 for which the Family Court judge gave the Defendant two chances to prove, and both times he failed to do so and therefore the Defendant should not receive the benefit of a Probation error. N.J.C.R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). Further, the Appellate Division dismissed the Defendant’s second argument as there was no equitable reason why interest should not have begun to accrue on the arrears that existed at the time of the child’s emancipation. Disputes regarding child support can be of the most important in family law because child support money is critical for the welfare of the children of divorced parents. If you are involved in a child support dispute it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before proceeding. For more information on child support, post judgment modification, alimony, divorce, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.