Marital Settlement Agreements and Your Options when Errors Occur in New Jersey
Family Law is certainly not an exact science. Divorce decrees can sometimes unfairly favor one spouse over the other.
In many cases, the male spouse tends to face an unfair bias. If your divorce took place years ago, but you feel that you are paying more in alimony payments than you should be, or still feel that any aspect of your divorce decree is unfair, you might ask, is there anything you can do about it now?
It Can Be Done
The good news is that there are many different methods for challenging a divorce decree, even years afterward. The only problem is that you need to go about the process carefully and with well-experienced and knowledgeable legal support. You may try to either appeal your divorce ruling by trying to have the judge’s original decision overturned, or you can attempt to have your decision modified in the face of new information. Throughout either method, you will need strong evidence to support your case.
When attempting to use an appellate court, you will need to prove that there were errors in the original divorce court case that caused the rulings to be unfair. When appealing a judgment, you are typically not permitted to submit any new evidence. You will need a skilled appellate lawyer who can demonstrate that the judge’s decision was unjust using the previous court records. If you and your spouse agreed on a settlement during your original divorce proceedings, appealing the decision can be next to impossible.
Your next option is to have your divorce agreement modified. With the help of a family law attorney, you can file a motion to modify the divorce decree in light of new evidence. When filing this motion, you are allowed to demonstrate why new circumstances give a reason for the judgment to be modified. For example, if you have recently lost your job, the courts can consider this and adjust any spousal support or child support payment amounts. Also, if living arrangements have changed, or if your spouse has been convicted of a crime, child custody can be reconsidered as well.
What Are the Different Circumstances for Changes to Be Made?
To have your divorce ruling changed or overturned, you must prove to the courts that there is a valid reason for these changes. This can be a very challenging task, but it is certainly possible with a qualified family law attorney.
(a) a blunder, an oversight, a surprise, or an excused omission;
(b) newly uncovered proof that, with due diligence, may not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial and would most likely change the decision or order;
(c) fraud (whether intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other wrongdoing on the part of a third party;
(d) the decision or order is null and void;
(e) the judgment or order has been met, issued, or discharged, or a prior judgment or order on which it is based has been overturned or otherwise vacated, or the judgment or order’s prospective application is no longer equitable; or
(f) some other justification justifying relief from the judgment or order’s execution.
Situations a, b, and c must be addressed within a year of filing the settlement, while the others should be submitted within a “reasonable amount of time.”
Despite its best efforts, the courts have been known to make mistakes, leading to an unfair judgment. In these circumstances, you may file an appeal. When you appeal a divorce decree, you ask a higher court to review your original case to decide if mistakes were made in the original trial.
An appeal must show that the court’s decision was based on a mistake in applying the law. Maybe the court failed to consider a loss your business has suffered or miscalculated the worth of assets. Or perhaps inadmissible testimony was allowed, or pertinent evidence was excluded in your case. A divorce attorney could argue on appeal that legal errors were made or certain facts or financial evidence was overlooked. In rare cases, the appeals court may also consider new evidence if the proper criteria are met.
Contact our Family Law attorneys for a Free Consultation at our Brick Office.
If you have a divorce settlement which you believe needs to be fixed or altered, contact our legal team right away.
At Peter Bronzino Law Firm, we take pride in successfully representing clients in Ocean County and Monmouth County communities, including Asbury Park, Neptune, Manasquan, Point Pleasant, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and across Central New Jersey. Our goal is to make sure you are heard and receive fair treatment under the law.