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Four Recent Updates in Family Law

Mar 6, 2024 | Written by: Diana N. Fredericks, Esq. |

The attorneys in our office receive daily updates on recent court decisions.  These updates serve as an important tool that attorneys should review and understand.  The law can change, and understanding the new cases and how they may be applicable to specific client matters is critical.  Recently, there were four updates in family law worth noting…

  1. Geary v. Geary

In this unpublished NJ Appellate Division case, the court addressed the post-judgment modification of limited duration alimony (commonly referred to as LDA or term).

The parties’ Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) provided that the husband would pay limited duration alimony commencing May 1, 2014, through December 31, 2030, in the amount of $10,000 per month.  The MSA also provided for a reporting obligation to the other party in the event their respective incomes exceeded a certain level.  The husband then lost his job and claimed he was unable to find reemployment; he relocated to Hilton Head and established a new company.  The court temporarily reduced the alimony obligation during the years the husband was unemployed but found that he was capable of earning a substantial income as a realtor in Hilton Head.  The trial court did not necessarily modify the term of alimony but instead said that it would be dependent on future application and analysis of the facts at that time.

  1. Dong v. Li

In this unpublished NJ Appellate Division case, the Appellate Division remanded the case back to the trial court for a plenary hearing (trial) to address changed circumstances and alimony.  On appeal, the former wife’s only argument was that she was entitled to a plenary hearing, as she had made an initial (prima facie) showing of changed circumstances.  The Appellate Division agreed, finding that an alimony obligation is always subject to review and modification upon a showing of changed circumstances.  The ex-husband’s move to CA (from NJ) significantly reduced his parenting time, leaving the former wife with a special needs son 35% more of the time than when the initial alimony award was calculated, increasing her responsibilities.  This was, in fact, a material change.  This case also confirmed that the trial court should NOT have considered the increase in child support in determining whether the wife was entitled to a hearing on alimony.

  1. Auslander v. Auslander

In this post judgment appeal, both former spouses disagreed with the trial court’s calculations of child support and the NJ Appellate Division agreed, as no findings of fact or conclusions of law explaining the basis for the decision were made.  Like the case mentioned above, a plenary hearing was requested but denied, without reason given.  Then, after reading the parties’ respective motion pleadings, the trial court issued a decision but did not provide an explanation.  In this case, the Child Support Guidelines did NOT apply, as the parties’ incomes exceeded the maximum guidelines, but again, there was no explanation from the court for its decision.

            4. Sadeeshkumar v. Venugopal

The defendant appealed from a court order denying his motion to amend his answer to the divorce complaint filed by his wife.  Approximately a year after the complaint was filed, the husband sought to amend his answer to include a counterclaim for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty and irreconcilable differences.  This appeal was permitted during the pendency of the divorce and the husband was granted leave to have these interim orders heard by the Appellate Division, which is somewhat rare.  The Appellate Division held that the trial court was wrong and that the husband should have been permitted to file the amended counterclaim, noting the uniqueness of dissolution matters (divorces) and clarifying that the Rule (5:4-2(e)) allows a party to amend its pleadings if a spouse uncovers facts about the party or the marriage itself previously unknown. 

While each of these cases is specific, awareness of these outcomes helps attorneys to keep abreast of changes and trends in the law to advocate for clients at every opportunity.

Diana Fredericks, Esq.


Diana N. Fredericks, Esq., devotes her practice solely to family law matters.  She is a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and was named to the NJ Super Lawyers Rising Stars list in the practice of family law by Thomson Reuters from 2015 through 2022, to the NJ Super Lawyers list in 2023, and to the New Leaders of the Bar list by the New Jersey Law Journal in 2015.  Contact Ms. Fredericks for a consultation at 908-735-5161 or via email.

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Any statements made herein are solely for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.