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Changed circumstances to modify support and expenses

The case below touches on several issues – one of them is the need to look at the statutory factors in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(a) to decide if, and when, a child with disabilities is emancipated for child support purposes. Another issue presented is that if you are going to say something is not a necessary expense (here dental veneers for minor), you need an expert report, not just your opinion.

Family Law

20-2-1000 Annunziato v. O’Shea, N.J. Super. App. Div. (per curiam) (10 pp.) Defendant appealed the Family Division orders that denied his motion for a modification of child support, reimbursement of certain dental expenses and counsel fees, and contribution toward college expenses. The panel reversed the decision on child support, finding that the parties had agreed in a 2011 consent judgment that child support would be reevaluated in August 2012 and by the time father did apply for a modification in November 2013, “Joseph” had turned 18 and would be considered “emancipated” but for his disabilities, and “John” was in college, changed circumstances that warranted a review and that the judge’s failure to apply the statutory factors in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(a) to Joseph and John, and the guidelines to the remaining two minor children, was error. The panel also remanded on the issue of college expenses, finding that the court’s decision on mother’s responsibility for college contribution was inconsistent and that the trial court failed to provide reasons for why it merely disposed of the matter by denying defendant’s motion without prejudice. The panel affirmed the ruling on dental expenses, finding that father did not provide support from an expert justifying his position that dental veneers for John constituted reasonable and necessary dental expenses and thus, they were properly excluded from reimbursement. The panel also affirmed the denial of attorney fees, finding that the court had properly considered the relevant factors under Rule 5:3-5(c).

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