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Equitable Distribution Will Not Be Enforced Against Equity

Equitable Distribution Will Not Be Enforced Against Equity

In Rubino v. Rubino, the Defendant appealed from a Family Court Order which denied his request to enforce a provision of a property settlement agreement (PSA) that he entered into with the Plaintiff concerning equitable distribution and denied his application to modify his child support obligation. The Plaintiff and Defendant were married in 1988 and had two (2) children. In 2004, the parties separated and were officially divorced in 2006. A PSA was incorporated into the parties’ final divorce judgment. The PSA directed that the parties were to share joint legal and physical custody of the children until they were emancipated and that neither party was to be required to pay child support since they had equal incomes and would share the children equally. In 2007, the Defendant was arrested and charged with three (3) counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and three (3) counts of criminal sexual contact. Custody of the children was immediately transferred to the Plaintiff. Shortly thereafter, the court granted the Defendant supervised visitation with the children and required that he pay $254 per week in child support. In 2008, the Family Court issued another Order denying the Defendant’s Motion for shared custody and to reduce his child support obligation. In 2013, the Defendant filed another Motion to enforce his rights to $40,000 under an equitable distribution provision in the parties’ PSA, to retroactively reduce his child support obligation, to vacate all cost of living (COLA) increases to his obligation, and for an award of all retroactive credits based upon the vacated COLAs. The Family Court denied all of the relief sought in the Defendant’s Motion. The Defendant appealed. The Appellate Division found that it would be inappropriate to require the Plaintiff to make a $40,000 payment to the Defendant pursuant to the PSA considering the very significant amount of money that the Defendant owed to the Plaintiff in child support arrears and other expenses related to the children. Regarding the reduction in his child support obligation, the court determined that the Motion judge reasonably determined that the request should be denied because it was not accompanied by sufficient information. Halliwell v. Halliwell, 326 N.J. Super. 442, 741 A.2d 638 (App. Div. 1999). Finally, the court denied the Defendant’s argument that the Family Court judge erred by affirming two (2) Orders granting COLA increases to his child support obligation because he never received notice. The Appellate Division noted that the record supported the Family Court judge’s decision and the Defendant’s requests were without sufficient merit to warrant a full comment. Rule 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). Although the court did note that the Defendant had an obligation to inform the Probation Department of any change to his address. Property Settlement Agreements (PSA) are very common today. If you have questions regarding how an agreement should be drafted to best protect your interests with regard to alimony, equitable distribution, child support or any other disputed issue it is extremely important that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about equitable distribution, child support, alimony, post-judgment modification, parenting time or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney

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