Going through a divorce can often be an expensive, stressful, and draining process, and as such many people tend to try to get through it as quickly as possible, and sign agreements that really aren't in their best interests, and sometimes just downright unfair. Others prefer to avoid the process entirely, pretend that it isn't happening to them, and just let their divorce settle with a default judgement while taking no actions to protect themselves or their assets. While it is certainly understandable why people wish to do this, an unfavorable settlement agreement can cost them even more time, money, and grief than if they had just hired a Morris County divorce attorney in the first place.
While it can be difficult to alter a property settlement agreement (the document which determines child custody rights, support payments like child support and spousal support, and the division of marital properties and debts), with the help of an experienced Chatham divorce attorney it may be possible to alter your property settlement agreement post-divorce.
Relief from a Default Divorce Judgement Attorneys Randolph, NJ
Typically, a divorce and the resulting property settlement agreement will be determined in one of two ways: either the divorcing spouses negotiate their own property settlement agreement (either on their own or, more prudently, with the help of a Morristown divorce attorney), or the court will make its own judgement should the parties not be able to reach on agreement or if one party fails to respond to the divorce complaint.
According to Rule 4:50-1 of New Jersey law, a litigant has one year from the date a judgement is entered by the courts to appeal the judgement and seek relief. However, they must also present sufficient cause for the judgement to be reviewed and possibly altered or voided. These causes include:
- a mistake made by either party or the court itself in declaring or dividing assets
- new evidence which would cause the judgement to be altered
- fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct by one of the parties
- a change in divorce law which would affect the judgement
Rule 4:50-1 is specifically designed to "reconcile the strong interests in finality of judgments and judicial efficiency with the equitable notion that courts should have authority to avoid an unjust result in any given case." Baumann v. Marinaro, 95 N.J. 380, 392 (1984), basically saying that divorce judgements greatly impact the lives of those involved, and as such it is worth spending the time to guarantee that judgements are in fact, fair to both parties.
As with any divorce, if you are seeking relief from a default divorce judgement, having an experienced Montville divorce attorney to help you draft, file, and present your case to the courts is of extreme benefit. Even if you are unsure whether your case qualifies for review, the family law attorneys of Laufer, Dalena, Cadicina, Jensen & Bradley are ready to speak with you today in a free and confidential consultation, and begin crafting a strategy to ensure your post-divorce rights are protected.
Relief from a Settlement Agreement Attorneys Montville, NJ
While it is typically more difficult to alter or void a signed settlement agreement than it is to alter or void a default judgement, it is still possible. New Jersey policy is to enforce agreements entered into between divorcing spouses, but only when that agreement is "fair and just". A signed settlement agreement can be altered when:
- the agreement is "unconscionable" (no reasonable person would agree to the terms)
- when the agreement was the product of fraud, intimidation, or overreaching by a party with marital authority.
- both parties made a mistake with a particular fact (such as the value of a home or property)
- one party made a mistake, and then concealed it from the other
When petitioning the courts to review and possibly alter your existing marital settlement agreement, the courts will review all of the pertinent facts of the case, and if they find the settlement to be unjust, oppressive, or inequitable, the agreement can be altered or remade.
Contact Our Morristown Post-Divorce Judgement Relief and Modification Attorneys Today
At the Morristown Law Office of Laufer, Dalena, Cadicina, Jensen & Bradley, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients across Chatham, Randolph, Morris Township, and the surrounding areas to seek relief from unfair judgements and settlement agreements. Practicing exclusively family law, we are intimately familiar with the modification process, and how to successfully petition the courts in order to protect you from unfair and oppressive divorce agreements.
To speak with one of our attorneys today in a free and confidential consultation regarding modifying or seeking relief from your divorce judgement, please contact us online or through our Morristown office at 973-975-4043.