Motion to End College Contribution Requirement for Failure to Supply Financial Documentation

Coney v. Banks

Docket No. A-1561-18T3

Decided August 4, 2020

Submitted by New Jersey Family Law Firm, Hark and Hark.

In a recent unpublished decision the Appellate Division reviewed a trial judge decision denying defendant’s motion to end his college contribution requirement for failure of plaintiff to supply the financial documentation, and required him to pay a portion of plaintiff’s counsel fees.

In Coney, The parties, who were never married, have a son who was born on May 22, 2014. Between May 2015 and June 2016, the parties were embroiled in contentious litigation after plaintiff filed a complaint on May 20, 2015 for visitation and custody of the parties’ son.

On June 14, 2016, the parties executed a written consent order resolving the issues of, among other things, parenting time and transportation. Notably, the consent order was executed after two failed mediations and extensive negotiation with the assistance of the court. Pursuant to the order, both parties retained joint physical and legal custody of their son, with defendant acting as the parent of primary residence, and plaintiff acting as the parent of alternate residence. The order specified that plaintiff would have biweekly parenting time from 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays through 6:30 p.m. on Mondays, and weekly parenting time from 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. The parties agreed to drop the child off at the other’s residence to facilitate the parenting schedule, with defendant dropping him off at plaintiff’s house every other Thursday, and plaintiff dropping him off at defendant’s house every Wednesday and every other Monday.

The consent order also included language that the parties were to inform the other regarding education, medical, or major events in the child’s livelihood.

After two unsuccessful motion to modify the consent order just months after it was put into effect, plaintiff sought to modify the consent order after defendant moved residences.  Defendant sought counsel fees and enforcement of the consent order.

The trial court denied defendant’s motion for a failure of demonstrating changed circumstances warranting reconsideration of the pickup and drop off. The judge previously warned the plaintiff on his previous attempt to modify the consent order that she would award counsel fees to defendant if he filed a motion without evidence.  The judge awarded defendant the full amount of fees.

Plaintiff appealed and because the Judge did not adequately state on the record her factual findings and legal conclusions, the Appellate Division remanded it back to the Court for a more detailed ruling.

Most family matters are resolved with agreements including custody agreements, visitation schedules, alimony and child support amounts, property settlement agreements (PSAs), Matrimonial Settlement Agreements (MSAs) and civil restraints.  The agreements, especially PSA and MSA, can be reviewed years later, and are upheld with the exception of significantly changed circumstances or unconscionability.  Therefore, you have to make sure that the agreement is in your best interests.  Make sure you hire an attorney that guide you , protect you, while getting you the best result possible.

At Hark & Hark, we help clients with prenups, divorce, custody, domestic violence, child support, alimony issues and more.

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Michael J. Collis, Esquire

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Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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