Articles Posted in Divorce

rural-home-1233045-e1508796239638In a recent New Jersey appellate case, a couple married in 1997 and separated in 2007. The husband sued for divorce in 2010, and the divorce came through in 2013. The divorce judgment incorporated a marital settlement agreement.

The husband appealed a post-judgment order that enforced equitable distribution of the marital home, transferred the obligation to make mortgage payments, and provided the husband with sole responsibility for the couple’s unpaid income taxes. The wife argued it should be affirmed.

The wife had filed the motion at issue in 2015, when she found out the mortgage’s balance was higher than what the couple had understood when creating the settlement agreement. She had also filed a motion after learning there were recorded federal income tax liens on the couple’s home that were more than what the home was worth. Because of these liens, the wife couldn’t close on a home sale contract set for 2015.

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wedding ringIn a recent New Jersey divorce decision, the defendant tried to get a divorce judgment vacated because it incorporated an unenforceable marital separation agreement. He claimed that it was an unconscionable, unjust, and inequitable mid-marriage agreement and that his spouse fraudulently induced him to sign it.

The wife found out that the husband was having an affair and asked an attorney to draft a marital separation agreement. The attorney sent the agreement to the husband and let him know he had the right to ask an attorney of his own for advice before signing it. The agreement gave the wife sole legal custody of the couple’s three kids. It provided that the husband would have parenting time on alternative weekends and when the parties mutually agreed.

The couple jointly owned and operated a marketing business, from which the husband was to pay alimony to the wife. The wife would get their home, retirement accounts, and a joint brokerage account. The husband got a car and had responsibility for the debt he’d incurred as well as their remaining mortgage debt.

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windowIn a recent New Jersey property division case, the father appealed from a court order denying his motion to compel his former wife to contribute toward debts they’d incurred while married. The couple had been married for 32 years, and they divorced in 2014. Their matrimonial settlement agreement was incorporated into their final divorce judgment. It included allocations of marital debt. There was language about how the couple would handle an IRS tax lien that had attached to their home.

The tax lien arose because from 1999-2004, the couple hadn’t filed federal income tax returns or paid federal income taxes. Eventually, the IRS put a lien on their home. In the settlement agreement, they agreed that they would pay off the debt by selling the home. The home sold in 2015, and at the time, they owed the IRS more than $102,000 in back taxes. From 2011 to the time of the sale, the husband’s wages were garnished by the IRS, and they collected $41,580 that way.

The settlement agreement agreed they would evenly split the proceeds after paying the tax liens, and the liens were there due to the failure to pay income tax. The agreement referenced the wage garnishment and stated the couple would work with their accountant to try to reduce the tax liens. The agreement also agreed that any liens or judgments for anything besides the taxes would be the responsibility of whoever’s name was on the judgment or lien.

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gotcha-1240525In a recent unpublished New Jersey appellate case, a mother appealed an order denying her motion to vacate a judgment of divorce or modify the settlement agreement that had been incorporated into the decree. The mother and father were married for close to 10 years and had two kids when they decided to divorce.

The couple went to a mandatory pretrial settlement conference during which they took care of their property and child custody disputes without a judge presiding over it. The attorney told the coordinator that a settlement had been reached, but the terms of this settlement weren’t placed on the record. Accordingly, a hearing to end the union was scheduled.

The couple followed the agreement. Their home was listed with a realtor and the father brought their mortgage current. The father’s attorney also sent the mother’s attorney a memorialization of the settlement agreement. The couple then disagreed about custody, and the mother took their home off the market.

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sunsetIn a recent New Jersey equitable distribution decision, a wife and husband cross-appealed after their divorce. The husband filed for divorce in 2010 after he’d been married to the wife for less than eight years. He was 61 when they married, while the wife was 50. They came into the marriage with children from prior marriages and worked full time.

The husband was laid off two years into the marriage and ultimately determined he would retire. The wife worked in IT, and her income fluctuated between $62,000 and $120,000 on a yearly basis. She had no health benefits as a contractor and no pension. The husband irrevocably named her a contingent beneficiary of his pension and also provided for the household.

The husband’s accounts paid for renovations and living expenses. She didn’t contribute to his accounts, nor withdraw from them. He paid down the wife’s mortgage. The wife put her earnings into accounts only in her name and contributed to the home by doing most of the chores. They had a nine-day divorce trial, in which the husband’s request for alimony was denied. The defendant filed a motion challenging the distribution to the plaintiff of his own bank accounts.

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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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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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