Post-Judgment Action To Enforce PSA Over College Expenses
- October 8, 2015
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Daley v. Daley, is a post-judgment matrimonial matter in which the Defendant appealed from a 2013 Family Court Order that granted the Plaintiff’s Motion to enforce and amended a provision of the parties’ Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) dealing with the funding of their children’s college education. The parties in this case were married in 1995 and got divorced in 2007. Two (2) children were born during their marriage and a PSA was incorporated into their divorce judgment in 2007. In 2013, the Plaintiff filed a Motion to enforce and amend a provision of the PSA that required the Defendant to provide her with annual fund balances and make required monthly payments to the children’s college savings accounts for their education. In response to the Plaintiff’s Motion the Defendant admitted that between 2009 and 2013 he had withdrawn $33,000 from the college accounts but he had repaid the sum prior to the 2013 filing of the Plaintiff’s Motion. The Defendant also admitted that in 2008 he withdrew $29,100 from the accounts to pay his federal and state taxes and he had not yet repaid that amount and he claimed that although the accounts should remain an asset for the children’s benefit, he was not prevented from making necessary withdrawals from this accounts under the PSA. The Family Court judge ordered that the Plaintiff be named the custodian of the children’s college savings accounts and that the defendant repay the $29,100 within thirty (30) days. The Defendant appealed claiming that the Family Court judge erred in making the Plaintiff the custodian of the college accounts, amending the PSA concerning the use of the account funds, amongst other prayers for relief. According to the Appellate Division, with regard to the enforcement of the PSA, New Jersey Court Rule 1:10-3 “provide[s] a mechanism, coercive in nature, to afford relief to a litigant who has not received what a Court Order or Judgment entitles that litigant to receive.” D’Atria v. D’Atria, 242 N.J. Super. 392, 407 (Ch. Div. 1990). “The particular manner in which compliance may be sought is left to the court’s sound discretion.” Bd. of Educ. of Middletown v. Middletown Twp. Educ. Ass’n., 352 N.J. Super. 501, 509 (Ch. Div. 2001). According to these standards, the Appellate Division found no basis to disturb the Family Court judge’s decision to place the Plaintiff in control of the children’s college savings accounts. Although the Defendant was an “owner” of the account, the PSA required him to make regular monthly payments into the accounts. Nothing in the PSA indicated that the parties ever intended that the Defendant would or could periodically withdraw funds from the accounts to pay his personal expenses. If you believe that a post-judgment modification to your settlement agreement regarding the provisions of the agreement may be beneficial to you to you should seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about post-judgment modification, equitable distribution, alimony, child support or other family law matters in New Jersey visit the DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way is intended to replace the advice if an attorney.