Larbig v. Larbig

While decisions from the Appellate Division addressing a former professional athlete’s motion to reduce his support obligations do not come around all that often, we have, in fact, previously blogged on the issue.  Now from the Appellate Division comes the unpublished (not precedential) matter of Villone v. Villone, where the Appellate Division strictly relied on “triggering” language in the parties’ Marital Settlement Agreement in reversing and remanding a trial court’s decision that a former Major League Baseball pitcher was not entitled to a modification of support.

The matter involved that of former pitcher Ron Villone, who has played for more franchises than almost anyone else in the history of the game (an interesting record that was recently broken) – 12 to be exact as of Spring Training 2011, when he was released by the Washington Nationals and signed with the Somerset Patriots (an independent, minor league baseball club).  He became well known for his travels, earning the nickname “Suitcase” Villone from teammates.  Also interesting is that his current wife is on the reality show “Baseball Wives”, which, in the context of asking for a support reduction could provide potential evidence for his former spouse to use against him in opposing such request at the trial level.Continue Reading STRIKEOUT? FORMER PITCHER GRANTED RELIEF ON MOTION TO REDUCE SUPPORT

On February 13, 2009, the Appellate Division issued an interesting unreported decision in the case of Chopoorian v. Chopoorian dealing with a topic that we have blogged about frequently as of late – modification of support obligations. To review the full text of the opinion, click here.

The parties were divorced in 2005.  During the marriage, the husband operated a highly  successful advertising business which provided him with an annual income of over $900,000 in 2003. The parties also owned several valuable pieces of real estate.  The divorce agreement required the husband to pay $187,500 per year in permanent alimony and $50,000 per year in child support.  Of note, the Agreement stated:

Husband’s earned income as defined herein may increase to $650,000 gross per year (before taxes) before Wife is entitled to file a Motion to modify/increase alimony
based on an increase in Husband’s earned income. Husband’s earned income must decline to $400,000 gross per year (before taxes) or below before he is entitled to file a Motion to modify/decrease alimony based on a decrease in earned income.

The husband was also supposed to pay the wife $1.3 million over time for her share of the business interests.Continue Reading SUPPORT MODIFICATION – ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER DECISION

Last week, I published a blog post entitled "No Hearing Required for Serial Modification Motions." To view that post, click here.  However, released on February 9th was the unreported decision in the case of Cordero v. Mora with a different result. To view the full text of the case, click here.

This case involves the former Major League baseball player, Will Cordero, who was seeking, once again, to reduce his child support obligation for the child of his first marriage.  He played with the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals in the major league for fourteen years. He made a substantial amount
of money during his career. In some seasons he made as much as $6,000,000.  He now claims to be out of baseball, having last played in the Major Leagues in 2005.  He participated in spring training in 2007 with the Mets in their minor league camp but was cut.

Over the years, Mr. Cordero has filed many application to reduce his support. In 2005 resulted in a reduction of child support from $1300 to $800 weekly. The  following year, he sought and obtained another reduction based on a substantial salary reduction.  from $800 to $500 weekly. On appeal,
he argued he should have received a greater reduction.  In June 2007, that argument was rejected by the Appellate DIvision.  However, just prior thereto, the ex-wife filed an enforcement motion and Mr. Cordero filed another motion seeking a reduction.  The judge granted the motion to enforce the existing order. In addition, the judge ordered him to pay $11,999 in arrears within thirty days and denied his motion for a further reduction. The judge noted that plaintiff provided limited and spotty financial information. Based on the information before the court, the judge concluded that plaintiff had the ability to pay the arrears. He also found that plaintiff produced extremely limited information about his efforts to obtain employment and incomplete information about assets that may generate unearned income or can be liquidated to meet his on-going child support obligation. The judge was particularly concerned that plaintiff had not provided an accounting of the millions of dollars he had earned during his professional baseball career.


On February 2, 2009, the Appellate Division released a reported (precedential) decision that affirmed a decision of the trial court denying the former husband’s motion for a downward modification of his alimony and child support obligations.  The Appellate Division found that the trial judge properly exercised his discretion particularly when viewed against his findings from a multi-day plenary hearing (trial) that occurred less than one year prior. To see the full text of this case, click here.

The parties were divorced in 2003 and entered a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) where he agreed to pay $1,000 per week in alimony and $350 per week in child support for the parties’ 3 children.  In addition, based upon the joint accountant’s finding of the five year average of the husband’s income, he agreed that support was based upon $185,000 for him.

In 2005, the husband moved for a reduction in his support obligation claiming a downturn in his law practice.  The plenary hearing on this motion was held over several days in December 2006.  After the hearing, the judge denied the husband’s motion finding that during the time that the husband’s income had supposedly decreased, he obtained a new $58,000 Lexus and bought a home for $785,000 with a $600,000 mortgage.  The judge also found that based upon the evidence at trial and his CIS, that the husband’s income was more in the $140,000 range and not $100,000.  The judge also rejected the husband’s claim that he was indebted to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $55,000 because Gregory failed to provide any documentation to
support that assertion.Continue Reading No Hearing Required for Serial Modification Motions