Party’s Successive Post-Judgment Motions To Change Divorce Agreement Are Denied
- May 5, 2014
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In a recent New Jersey case, Dunbar v. Woods, the parties entered into a property settlement agreement (“PSA”) and a custody and parenting time agreement when they divorced in 2010, and since that time the Plaintiff (husband) has made multiple, successive post-judgment motions to modify the terms of the agreement. All of the Plaintiff’s motions to change the terms of the PSA have been denied by the court because they require a showing of a change in circumstances that the Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate. The Plaintiff appealed from the last Family Court order denying his request for a modification. The parties in his case were married in 2008, one day after executing a prenuptial agreement. The Plaintiff filed for a divorce in 2009 upon moving from New Jersey to Louisiana. The Defendant gave birth to the couple’s twin children in 2009. In 2010, the the parties entered into the original PSA that is at issue in this case. At that time they were represented by legal counsel and the Plaintiff was unemployed. In Plaintiff’s numerous post-judgment motions to significantly modify the agreement, he has requested multiple forms of relief. He has asserted that the PSA was the product of fraud and deception because the Defendant overstated her child care expenses in her case information statement (CIS). He sought to have the PSA vacated and his child support obligation reduced. The Defendant submitted cross motions indicating the Plaintiff had violated litigant’s rights for not abiding by the terms of the PSA and seeking court orders denying his motions to modify the agreement. In the final order, for which the Defendant appealed to the Appellate Division, the court order denied all of the Plaintiff’s requests and awarded the Defendant counsel fees in the amount of $2,100. In a statement attached to the final order the Judge specified that in order to modify the terms of the PSA the Plaintiff would have to show “a substantial change in circumstances . . . that renders the agreement no longer fair or equitable to enforce.” Further, the judge specified that claims for relief requesting modification of child support under Court Rule 5:5-4 require a copy of both prior case information statements (CIS) and updated versions of the document reflecting current tax returns and other financial statements to support any claim that there is a substantial change in circumstances. In this case, the Plaintiff has failed to provide any of these documents. Finally, the court opined that the Plaintiff should be aware of the consequences under Court Rule 1:4-8 of filing multiple frivolous law suits. The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s decision and order and noted that the Plaintiff’s argument lacked any merit. If you anticipate that you may want to petition the court for a post-judgment modification of your property settlement agreement, divorce judgment, or child support obligation it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about post-judgment modifications, divorce, prenuptial agreements, property settlement agreements, visitation & custody, child support, 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.