High Net-Worth Divorce Leads To Successive Post-Judgment Motions
- July 25, 2016
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In a high net-worth divorce, Robin Baskin, the defendant, filed a motion to enforce litigant’s rights seeking child support and alimony arrears as well as medical expenses for the children. The parties entered into a negotiated property settlement agreement (PSA) at the time of their divorce which provided, among other relief, alimony to the defendant in the amount of $17,000 per month for 78 months and child support in the amount of $3,300 per month for the parties’ 3 children until such time as the children were emancipated. The children often changed residence between the parties and 2 of the parties children had great difficulties in school, which the Plaintiff cited as being due to family conflict, and were enrolled in alternate educational settings at costs of up to $80,000 annually. The Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Morris County ordered the plaintiff to satisfy all child support and alimony arrears as well as reimburse the defendant for the children’s medical expenses but allowed the plaintiff a $20,000 credit for the plaintiff’s expenses resulting from the children’s difficult circumstances. The Honorable Thomas J. Critchley also awarded the defendant $12,000 in counsel fees associated with her motion. In Baskin v. Baskin, the NJ Appellate Division upheld the denial of the plaintiff’s request for a retroactive modification in child support, which is barred by N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.23(a), to the date that the children returned to his residence rather than the date of the filing of his cross-motion. Ohlhoff v. Ohlhoff, 246 N.J. Super. 1 (App. Div. 1991). The Appellate Division did determine that child support should be modified to reflect the change in custody wherein the plaintiff became the parent of primary residence and found the credit awarded by the motion judge to be unsupported by reasons as required under Heinl v. Heinl, 287 N.J. Super. 337 (App. Div. 1996). Without reasons set forth fully on the record, the Appellate Division has no basis on which to conduct a review. Finally, with regard to the defendant’s counsel fees, N.J.C.R. 5:3-5(c) permits attorney fees in matters of child custody, support and motions to enforce litigant’s rights. The motion judge determined that, as there were no substantial changes made in his decision, the plaintiff’s motions were in bad faith but made no specific findings with regard to counsel fees. The N.J. Appellate Division found that the plaintiff was reasonable in seeking relief and vacated the counsel fee award to the defendant. The decisions made in divorce, by either the parties or the court in the event of trial, are long lasting and have significant consequences to both parties’ and their children. When considering a modification, timing is crucial as you cannot obtain modification retroactively beyond the date of your application. If you have significant income or assets and are considering divorce or seeking a modification of your present child support, it is critical that you discuss your situation with an experienced divorce attorney. For more information about child support, custody, divorce, parenting time, visitation, alimony or other family law matters in NJ visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.