Litigants who get caught lying about their income in their filed submissions to the Court subject themselves not only to denial of their request for relief from the Family Part Judge but they also open the door for problems with the IRS, the State of New Jersey Division of Taxation, the Prosecutor’s office and the Social Security Administration.
In the recent unpublished Appellate Division decision of Lucci v. Lucci, Defendant ex-husband filed an application in 2008 to permanently terminate his alimony obligation on the basis that his income significantly decreased. Notably, between the time of the divorce in 2000 and the time of the application, Ex-Husband had been successful in reducing his alimony obligation on two separate occasions. First, by consent in 2004, he was able to reduce alimony from $300 to $150 per week. Then, by consent in 2005, he was able to suspend his alimony because he was “unemployed”. In 2008, he was seeking to permanently terminate his alimony obligation.
Ex-husband stated in sworn Certifications filed with the Court in the 2005 and the 2008 proceedings that he was laid-off of work, went through periods of unemployment and was finally able to obtain employment with much lower compensation. The Ex-Husband also certified that during his periods of unemployment, he received unemployment benefits.
In opposition to the application, Ex-Wife presented the Court with a sworn Certification from a Company that was never disclosed by Ex-Husband. The Company stated that it had employed Ex-Husband including the period during which Ex-Husband received unemployment benefits, that Ex-Husband misrepresented his employment status to the Court, and that he had earned income in an amount comparable to that which he earned when the Order of support subject to the Motion was filed. The Company further advised the Court that Ex-Husband provided two conflicting Social Security numbers to the Company. Finally, the Company advised that the income reported on Ex-Husband’s tax returns did not include his income from the Company.
Ex-Husband’s attorney did not know about Ex-Husband’s employment with the Company.
Not only did the Court deny Ex-Husband’s request to terminate alimony but the Court also wrote a letter to the IRS, State Division of Taxation, the Sussex County Prosecutor and the Social Security Administration. Moreover, the Court granted Ex-Wife’s request to reinstate alimony at $300 per week effective in 2004 and granted her counsel fees. Despite the fact that Ex-husband was reported to the authorities for what the Court perceived to be intentionally wrongful conduct, the Ex-Husband had the gall to appeal the decision to the Appellate Division.
The Appellate Division affirmed the trial Court’s decision with the exception of the effective date of the reinstatement of alimony. The Appellate Division noted that while it was clear from Ex-Husband’s filed submissions to the Court in 2005 that he had provided misleading information, it was unclear whether he provided misleading information in 2004. If Ex-Husband did not provide misleading information in 2004, the Appellate Division noted that the effective date of the reinstatement should be in 2005 when Ex-Husband was required to pay $150 per week in alimony. The Appellate Division directed the trial court to determine the issue after further Court proceedings.
The moral of the story is if you get caught lying in submissions to the Court for which you certified under oath that your statements were true, be prepared to not only pay the consequences to the other litigant but you may also have to pay a hefty price to authorities.