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Wife Must Pay Ex-Husband’s Counsel Fees After Filing Frivolous Post-Judgment Motions

Wife Must Pay Ex-Husband’s Counsel Fees After Filing Frivolous Post-Judgment Motions

n the recent Appellate Division case, Doll v. Doll, the Plaintiff, Deborah Doll, appealed from a 2012 Family Court Order that compelled her to pay $1,809.50 to her ex-husband, Defendant Peter Doll, due to the expenses he incurred in opposing post-judgment Motions that she filed frivolously. The Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the Family Court. The parties in this case were marred in 1994 in the state of Florida and had one child, a son, together. Subsequently, they got divorced in 1997. In 2000, the Defendant was awarded residential custody of the parties’ son after a lengthy custody and child support battle that began in 1996. At that time, the Plaintiff was ordered to pay child support to the Defendant for the benefit of their son. In 2004, it had been established that Florida retained jurisdiction over New Jersey concerning all issues regarding visitation and custody. Even though New Jersey did not have jurisdiction over the child support and custody issues of the case, the Plaintiff continued to file Motions for relief in New Jersey. In 2008, the Plaintiff filed a Motion in New Jersey to re-establish jurisdiction within the state from Florida, a Family Court judge noted that the Plaintiff’s Motion was frivolous and if she continued to ignore the prior Court Orders the court will impose sanctions upon her to deter her conduct pursuant to Rule 1:4-8 3(c). Notwithstanding the fact that New Jersey court declined to hear her Motions on three (3) prior occasions for lack of jurisdiction, the Plaintiff filed a Motion in New Jersey again in 2012 to stay the enforcement of a Child Support Order. The Defendant filed a Cross Motion for counsel fees and sanctions. The judge granted the Defendant’s Motion and the Plaintiff appealed from this decision. The Appellate Division affirmed the Family Court’s decision, holding that the Family Court judge appropriately cited Rule 4:42-9(a)(1), N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, and all of the relevant case law to allow for the award of counsel fees in Family Court cases. The Appellate Court held that there was no support in the court record for the Plaintiff’s argument that the Family Court judge abused her discretion in her decision. If you anticipate that you may want to petition the court for a post-judgment modification of your parenting time, custody arrangement, 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 modification, parenting time, child support, custody and visitation, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way is intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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