dogIn a recent New Jersey alimony case, a father appealed from three post-judgment orders requiring him to pay additional alimony and additional child support from 2010-2013 in line with a marital settlement agreement. The couple had divorced in 2010 after a marriage that lasted 15 years and resulted in two kids, who were teens at the time of divorce.

The parties were divorced in 2010 after 15 years of marriage and two children, both now teenagers. The father was a high-earning specialist in financial services. He’d been laid off but also gotten hired again at the same or higher level of compensation. The mother was a product manager earning more than $80,000 by the end of the marriage.

The mother and father were represented by attorneys during the divorce, and the attorneys had negotiated the marital settlement agreement, which was more than 30 pages long. There were 10 paragraphs about alimony and child support. These included a provision in which the husband would pay base child support for the calendar year and also pay additional child support of 8% from the gross amount of the bonus, incentive award, deferred compensation, or other form of compensation until the kids were emancipated.

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wedding ringsIn a recent New Jersey divorce decision, an ex-wife appealed from aspects of a divorce judgment that concluded her marriage of five and a half years. The couple had married in 2006 and had a five-year-old daughter. The husband was a 38-year-old employee of J.P. Morgan Chase, and the wife was a 41-year-old civil engineer employed in the United States but born in China. She came to the country at age 26, and she married two years after meeting her husband. Six months before their marriage, the husband bought a home for the couple, using savings and a loan from his parents to make the down payment.

During the marriage, the wife engaged in domestic violence against the husband. Weeks after they got married, she slapped her husband and bit him in the back of the neck while he was holding their child. She pressured him to write to the prosecutor’s office, asking it to drop the charges. This estranged the husband from his family.

In another incident, the wife got angry with her husband for offering to videotape something for the neighbors. She cornered him and screamed at him for nearly two hours until he lost his temper and punched her in the chest. She had to go to the hospital but wasn’t seriously injured. He was frightened by his anger at her and wrote to her, saying he was going to get professional help, but if it didn’t help, he would leave and assume the expenses to allow her to keep living in their house. He said he would give her the money in their accounts.

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coupleIn a recent New Jersey appellate case, a couple who’d married in 1999 got a divorce. They had one daughter who would be 14 as of the end of 2017. Their divorce judgment incorporated a property settlement agreement that they’d negotiated with the help of attorneys. It addressed all of their issues.

They filed an appeal related to how certain terms were to be enforced. One term required the husband to pay the wife limited duration alimony in the amount of $21,000 each year for six years starting in 2012. Another term ended the alimony obligation if the wife cohabitated with another person under New Jersey law. Another term described the protocol for custody and decision-making related to health and emotional well-being. The parties were prohibited from doing things to alienate or color the child’s attitude toward the other parent. Instead, they were supposed to cooperate to make it easier for the child to adjust to the circumstances. The exes were also supposed to consult on major decisions related to education, welfare, safety, and health.

The father filed a motion to terminate alimony, claiming the mother was cohabiting with an unrelated man. He also tried to modify the parenting time arrangement from one in which the mother served as the parent of primary residence to a shared custody arrangement because he’d recently bought a house with a separate bedroom for his daughter.

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bouquetIn a recent New Jersey alimony decision, a couple entered into a marital settlement agreement that gave them limited durational alimony of $120,000 per year for five years, paid out in installments of $10,000 per month, and included waivers of the right to get a modification or termination of the agreement. The agreement didn’t include a provision about what would happen with alimony if the wife remarried.

The dual final judgment of divorce incorporated their agreement. When the plaintiff remarried the following year, the husband stopped making alimony payments to her. The ex-wife moved to enforce his alimony obligation the following year. He cross-moved to terminate the obligation, effective on the date of her remarriage. She argued that the alimony obligation wasn’t affected by her remarriage and that he could only stop paying upon death or the expiration of the limited duration term.

The settlement agreement called the alimony obligation non-modifiable and non-terminable for five years and stated that it could not be modified under any circumstances. It also stated that the ex-wife was free to cohabit and that the ex-husband had waived the right to apply for a modification in case the plaintiff cohabited as defined under existing law. There was also a mutual waiver of the right to modify alimony during the five-year term, even if the parties’ income increased or decreased, or they cohabited with an individual of the opposite sex or had children with someone else or retired. There was no reference, however, to remarriage. The defendant argued that since there was no reference to remarriage, there was no agreement to waive the right to modify the agreement or terminate it in case of remarriage.

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graveIn a recent New Jersey divorce case, the defendant challenged the equitable distribution of marital assets and the alimony that had been awarded to him, as well as other rulings. The couple had been married for 24 years. The plaintiff was 56 years old and still working, while the defendant was 79 and retired. The plaintiff earned $92,419 each year as income, and the defendant got $13,000 yearly in the form of Social Security benefits.

The couple went to trial, at which the court awarded the defendant $27,500 each year as open durational alimony. The court allocated to each of the spouses equal shares of their personal property, an investment account, a pension, and marital credit card debt. The court ordered the couple to sell a Buenos Aires apartment that the defendant expected to be worth $350,000. The couple was also ordered to share college loans for their child, and the court required the defendant to pay 40% of the child’s college costs for his senior year. The plaintiff could keep the defendant’s share of the investment account to satisfy these obligations.

The defendant appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence presented at trial for the alimony and support rulings as well as the equitable distribution ruling. The appellate court explained that alimony shouldn’t be a factor in determining equitable distribution, even though equitable distribution was a factor in alimony. The defendant claimed the court had improperly distributed their marital assets, among other things.

watching-time-1238392-e1500318003248In a recent, unpublished New Jersey appellate case, a husband appealed an order that denied his motion to get rid of his alimony obligation or reduce it. The order also provided that the husband had to maintain a $300,000 life insurance policy naming the wife as a beneficiary according to the couple’s Interspousal Settlement Agreement. The husband also had to pay $2000 to the wife’s attorney.

On appeal the husband argued it was improper for the trial court not to grant his request that alimony be terminated without making adequate findings under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23j(3), and by improperly considering assets he got as part of equitable property contrary to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23j(4). The husband also argued that due to his good faith retirement and the terms of the Interspousal Settlement Agreement, the court had made a mistake in asking to continue to maintain a $300,000 life insurance policy.

The husband also argued that the court made a mistake in awarding a counsel fee to the wife. He further argued that the court made a mistake by not conducting a plenary hearing on the issue of alimony, life insurance and counsel fees.

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father and childIn an unpublished New Jersey appellate decision, a father appealed from an order allowing a mother to relocate with their two kids to Texas. The divorced couple had two daughters, who were nine and 13 when the mother decided to relocate. The parties had joint legal custody of the kids, with the mother as the parent of primary residence under the final divorce judgment. The father was the parent of alternate residence. The consent order in the divorce judgment had also provided for the father’s parenting time, even if the mother relocated.

In 2014, the mother asked for the court’s permission to relocate with the kids to Texas. The court asked for a diagnostic evaluation. The doctor reported the mother had a good-faith reason for the move, since her new husband and his kids lived in the other state, and his business was there. The mother had proposed enough contact with the father so that they could keep up that relationship and the move didn’t harm the children’s best interests, since they’d get the same opportunities if they were in Texas. Other than leaving their father, the other factor weighing against the move was their large extended family on both sides in New Jersey, but they had already been incorporated into the new husband’s extended family. The doctor recommended the mother be allowed to move.

The father retained a different attorney and another doctor, who didn’t consider the same criteria as the court-appointed doctor under Baures. He used a best interests analysis and gave the opinion it was in the kids’ best interests to stay in New Jersey. The first doctor agreed that under the best interests standard, it was in the kids’ best interests to stay, but there weren’t enough contraindications to stop the plaintiff from relocating under the Baures criteria. The reports were both admitted into evidence, but neither was specifically mentioned by the court when it allowed the relocation.

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kid on motorcycleIn a recent New Jersey appellate decision, the defendant appealed after a lower court awarded legal custody to her child’s father and modified parenting time and child support. The plaintiff and defendant had never gotten married, but they were involved romantically and had a child in 2009. They ended their relationship in 2010.

In 2011, a lower court granted the father visitation on every other weekend and one weekday night a week. He was responsible for picking up the child and dropping the child off. He had to pay child support based on an earlier order in the amount of $800 each month, although the amount was decided without consideration of the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. Custody issues weren’t addressed.

The defendant lived in New Jersey at the time of the order and in 2015 relocated to live with her boyfriend. She enrolled the child in school but didn’t put the father on the emergency contact list. The father moved to modify the order and asked for joint legal custody and reduced child support. He also sought to claim the child on his tax returns and modify parenting time.

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father and daughterIn a recent New Jersey appellate case, a father appealed an order that suspended a therapeutic reunification process with his daughters that was being conducted through Skype. The order awarded the defendant’s former wife attorneys’ fees, penalized the defendant with a $10,000 penalty, and required the defendant to give information about his convictions for financial fraud.

The case arose after the parties married in 1999. The defendant was English, and the plaintiff was Canadian. They lived in England until the plaintiff relocated to the United States with their two daughters, who were 17 and 15 at the time of the appellate court’s opinion. The defendant stayed behind in England and was put in jail for 2 1/2 years for financial fraud.

While in prison, the defendant threatened the plaintiff over the telephone. As a result, the court entered a final restraining order under the Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17-to-35. Under the order, the defendant wasn’t permitted to contact the plaintiff or their kids. An amended order was later issued, allowing the defendant to have contact with his kids in letters. Reunification visitation therapy was supposed to start. The result was Skype sessions. The defendant started treatment for psychiatric issues, and a reunification therapist was appointed. The defendant’s mother came to New Jersey to visit the kids once.

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teenagerN.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.67 automatically terminates support when a child reaches age 19 and became effective on February 1, 2017. However, couples may still negotiate settlement agreements that will be incorporated by their divorce judgment, in which they decide to treat emancipation of their children differently.

In a recent unpublished decision, a mother appealed from an order emancipating her 19-year-old son and terminating the father’s child support duties. The couple had married in 1986 and after having three children, divorced in 2006.

Their divorce judgment incorporated a settlement agreement that included a provision on emancipation, stating that it would occur when the children completed high school or upon reaching 18 years of age if a child didn’t go to college. Emancipation wouldn’t occur until after the child finished four years of college if the child went to college, as long as the child pursued it with reasonable diligence.

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