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Relief From Default Divorce Judgment or Settlement Agreement

By Jamie Berger, Esq.

Relief From Morris County Default Judgment and Settlement Agreements

Going through a divorce can often be an expensive, stressful, and draining process.  As such, many people tend to try to get through it as quickly as possible, and sign agreements that may not be in their best interests, and are 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 judgment 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 or default judgment can cost them even more time, money and grief than if they had just hired a Morris County divorce attorney in the first place.

Are they final? Is there a chance for modification or relief?

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 Morristown divorce attorney it may be possible to alter your property settlement agreement post-divorce.

Relief from a Default Divorce Judgment Attorneys Randolph, NJ

Typically, a divorce and resolution of the issues in one’s divorce 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 Morris County divorce attorney), or the court will make its own judgment should the parties not be able to reach an agreement or if one party fails to respond to the divorce complaint.

Generally a litigant has one year from the date a judgment is entered by the courts to appeal the judgment and seek relief, although there are certain limited circumstances where they are not limited to this one year timeframe, and can seek relief from the judgment within a “reasonable time.” However, when seeking relief from a judgment they must also present sufficient cause for the judgment to be reviewed and possibly modified or voided. These causes include, but are not limited to:

  • a mistake made by either party or the court itself in declaring or dividing assets
  • new evidence which would cause the judgment 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 my Judgment Fair?

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) (citing Manning Eng’g, Inc. v. Hudson Cty. Park Comm’n. , 74 N.J. 113, 120 (1977))”.  The courts have acknowledged that divorce judgments greatly impact the lives of those involved.  As such, it is worth spending the time to guarantee that judgments are in fact, fair to both parties.

As with any divorce, if you are seeking relief from a default divorce judgment, having an experienced Mendham divorce attorney to help you draft, file, and present your case to the court is of extreme benefit. Even if you are unsure whether your case qualifies for review, the family law attorneys of Jacobs Berger are ready to speak with you today in a confidential consultation and begin crafting a strategy to ensure your post-divorce rights are protected.

Relief from a Settlement Agreement Attorneys Chatham, 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,” when the agreement has been entered free of coercion or duress, and when the agreement is not unconscionable.

When can a signed Settlement Agreement be Altered?

  • The agreement is “unconscionable” (no reasonable person would agree to the terms).
  • 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 or misrepresentation, 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 Judgment Relief and Modification Attorneys Today

At the Morristown Law Office of Jacobs Berger, our family law attorneys have extensive experience helping clients across Chatham, Mendham, Morris Plains, Harding, Chester, Morristown and surrounding areas to seek relief from unfair judgments and settlement agreements. Practicing exclusively family law, our attorneys 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 confidential consultation regarding modifying or seeking relief from your divorce judgement, please contact us online or through our Morristown office at 973-710-4366.

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.