Did the title to this post get your attention? Did you think it was a joke? Maybe a Friday Funny? It wasn’t. The Appellate Division today held that paying alimony and child support was not akin to slavery. Wait, I am really not kidding.
In the case of Tobasco v. Tobasco, an unreported (non-precedential) opinion released today, the ex-husband asserted that, “… the order in question deprives him of liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, and renders him an “involuntary slave” to his former spouse.” Now normally, especially where the Court found that his arguments ”… are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion ….”, you would not expect the Appellate Division to take such “creative” arguments on. In this case, however, they did and stated:
We need only briefly observe that continuing alimony and child support obligations do not violate the constitutional prohibitions on slavery, as plaintiff asserts. That a dissolution of a marriage often carries consequences for the parties into the future – and, at times, for
the duration of the obligor’s life – does not render unconstitutional a court’s enforcement of those obligations.
If you have been on the edge of your seats waiting for an important proclamation such as this, well there you have it.
On a more serious note, what often plagues divorce cases is one or both parties unwillingness to accept their obligations under the law. Don’t get me wrong, there are many legitimate, bona fide, good faith disputes that need to be resolved, through negotiation, mediation, arbitration or litigation or some combination of all of the above. On the other hand, it is very costly and time consuming, both financially and emotionally, to fight just to fight, where there is likely only one way the issue gets resolved.
Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric is resident in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland and Morristown, New Jersey offices, though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or firstname.lastname@example.org.