Motion To Modify and Enforce Child Support Orders and Obtain Relief from Judgment of Divorces
Docket #: A-0103-21
Decided: November 22, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey Family Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal from an order denying her motion for relief from the parties’ July 2015 final judgment of divorce (JOD) and to reopen and amend the property settlement agreement (PSA) that was incorporated into the JOD.
The parties were married in 1997 and had two children. Some time after they were married, defendant was indicted and subsequently convicted of theft. She was sentenced to seven years, but only served a portion of that time in prison because she was eventually admitted into an Intensive Supervision Program and released from custody. Prior to her conviction, defendant owned and operated a successful insurance brokerage business and the plaintiff was the Deputy Chief of a Fire Dept. but retired in 2019.
The parties separated in April 2015 in contemplation of divorce. They subsequently executed the PSA in May 2015 without counsel. The PSA stated the parties would share joint custody of the children, and plaintiff would be solely responsible for more than $400,000 in marital debt, and plaintiff would pay: (1) defendant $72,000, reflecting two years of her rent obligations; (2) child support in the amount of $400 a month per child until June 2020; (3) 100% of the children’s college education; and (4) $62,000 as a lump sum advance for child support. The PSA also contained a mutual waiver of alimony, but did not mention the plaintiff’s pension. Plaintiff and defendant appeared pro se at the divorce hearing where they each testified that they had entered into the PSA voluntarily, and both accepted the terms as fair and reasonable.
In January 2021, defendant filed a motion to modify and enforce child support and relief from the JOD. She contended that she was under extreme pressure and duress when she executed the PSA and clearly did not waiver her interest in plaintiff’s pension. Defendant stated that the parties overlooked the pension in the PSA because it was not liquidated at the time. After hearing oral argument in March 2021, the trial judge denied defendant’s motion, reasoning that it wasn’t possible to rescind the PSA and restore the parties to the way they would have been if the PSA was never entered into and because the trial judge determined that the defendant was clearly aware of plaintiff’s pension when he retired in 2019 but did not seek relief until 2021. Defendant appealed.
On appeal, defendant argued that the trial judge should have reopened the JOD based on the plaintiff’s fraudulent non-disclosure of his pension. The Appellate Court disagreed with this contention and affirmed the trial court’s ruling. The Appellate Court found that nothing in the record supports defendant’s notion that plaintiff fraudulently failed to disclose his pension. The court noted that defendant even admitted in her own certification that the parties both overlooked the pension and the plaintiff stated in his certification that defendant repeatedly acknowledged she would not make any claim on his pension. Therefore, under the circumstances, the Appellate Court determined that the trial court did not abuse their discretion in denying defendant the relief she sought.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in matters in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to motions to modify and enforce child support orders and obtain relief from Judgment of Divorces. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of either party in this case, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.