Livingston Divorce Attorney

For many divorce attorneys, the busy season starts after the first of the year. For the last several years, I have posted on the phenomenon of the New Year’s Resolution Divorce. For whatever reason, this post has struck a chord and has been both well received and cited by other bloggers. As such, given that the new year is near, I thought I would share that piece again, updated slightly for the new year.

 

Over the years, I have noted that the number of new clients spikes a few times of the year, but most significantly right after the new year. Before writing this article for the first time, out of curiosity, I typed “New Years Resolution Divorce” into Google and got 540,000 results in .29 seconds. There are even more results when you do the same search now. While not all of the search results are on point, many were extremely interesting. It turns out that my intuition about this topic was right and that there are several reasons for it.

One article on Salon.com put divorce up there with weight loss on New Years resolution lists. Also cited in this article was that affairs are often discovered around the holidays. Another article linked above attributed it to “new year, new life”. Another article claimed that the holidays create a lot of pressures at the end of the year that combine to put stress on people in unhappy or weak relationships. Family, financial woes, etc. associated with the holidays add to the stress. Turning over a new leaf to start over and improve ones life was another reason given. This seems to be a logical explanation for a clearly difficult and perhaps heart wrenching decision.

In my experience, people with children often want to wait until after the holidays for the sake of the children. There is also the hope, perhaps overly optimistic, that the divorce will be completed by the beginning of the next school year. These people tend to be in the “improving ones life” camp.

So as divorce lawyers, we hope to avoid or at least resolve in advance the holiday visitation disputes that inevitably crop up, then relax and enjoy the holiday as we await the busy season to begin.

In the last several years, the phenomena started early for us and many other attorneys. We were contacted by more people in December in the last few years than in any years in recent memory. In some recent years, the calls started in November at a pace more robust than in prior years. Moreover, we have heard of more people telling their spouse it “is over” before the holidays this year. I suspect that in some, it was the discovery/disclosure of a new significant other or perhaps pressure being exerted by that person that was the cause. In other cases, the person just didn’t want to wait until the new year to advise their spouse.

As noted in my blog post from last week, the reforms to the tax code may be the impetus for people on the fence to divorce in 2018 to take advantage of the last year of the deductibility of alimony.

Whatever the reason, we await those who see 2018 as a chance for happiness or a fresh start. Happy New Year?!?!

For me, my resolution will be to blog more in 2018.

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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 Morristown, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or esolotoff@foxrothschild.com.

We deal with a fair number of cases where a spouse’s interest in a business has to be valued for equitable distribution purposes.   While there are many objective parts of a business valuation report, reasonable (a/k/a replacement) compensation is subjective.   That is why this is one of the first things I look at when partisan experts issue widely varying values.  Even when reviewing a joint or neutral report, or when the values are reasonably close, I will often go right to the reasonable compensation to see if it appears to make sense.

Dollar Bill On Dartboard  Stock PhotoPhoto courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

What is reasonable compensation?  In noted valuation expert Shannon Pratt’s book, The Lawyer’s Business Valuation Handbook”, he defines it simply as “What would it cost the company for a hypothetical replacement for the position in question.”  He further notes that the principle is substitution, not on whether the specific person is worth more or less.  Pratt notes that when determining reasonable compensation, the expert must quantify the total compensation being paid to the party in question and compare that to the compensation needed to attract an employee or employees of similar skill.

Why is it important?  Because the higher the reasonable compensation, the lower the value of the business and vice versa.  As such, when there are partisan experts, it is not unusual for these subjective factors to favor the party that the expert is working for.  That said, depending on the industry, there are numerous publications and databases that the experts use to determine reasonable compensation – so one would think that this subjective factor might be closer.  That happens sometimes, but not always.

For divorce purposes, as well as many other situations where businesses are valued, they are valued based in whole or part on their income.  Reasonable compensation is a consideration in two valuation methods often seen in divorce cases – the excess earnings method and the capitalization of earnings method.  These methods involve examining earnings available to a potential hypothetical buyer after he or she receives a “reasonably compensation”  for running the business. Earnings available, beyond “reasonable compensation” are a large factor in valuation. The higher this figure is, the more the business may be worth. In the excess earnings method, the difference between actual compensation and reasonable compensation is capitalized and for all intents are purposes represents the “intangible asset” known as good will of the business.

In cases where there are publications and databases, such as physicians or laywers, for example, one would expect to see the experts using the data sources, but selecting income information from different percentiles, etc. That said, I just had a matter where the experts differed by nearly $600,000 on reasonable compensation of a doctor causing their values to be about $1.5 million, or more apart.  In that case, a forensic accountant was brought in to mediate and his opinion was far closer to one party than the other – ultimately getting the people closer to settlement.

In another case, an expert imputed two full time high management level incomes to father and son, where (1) dad worked part time; (2) son just came into to business and was learning the ropes; and (3) there had never been two people in those roles before.  The result was a lowering the value.

In another case, the husband was the sole partner of a law firm that had a few associates.  While the firm was extremely profitable for its size, much of the profits were based upon leveraging associates, as the owner’s actual billable hours were pretty small compared to the “average” lawyer.  Because there was no office manager, his expert used reasonable compensation for a lawyer (without adjusting for the fact that this lawyer billed less hours than the peer group that he was being compared to) plus reasonable compensation for an office manager.  The net result of this was substantially lowering the value of his practice.  After a trial, the judge did not buy this and accepted the valuation of our experts who were much more conservative.

In another matter, the opposing expert used a similar figure that our expert used.  However, though he used a five year model, he kept the compensation fixed for each of the 5 years, which is not only unrealistic, it is contrary to economic reality.  As such, it skewed his value in favor of his client’s position.

In yet another matter, the client was a brand new partner at one of the top handful of law firms in the country.  Compensation at that firm was significantly higher than even most big firms and non equity partners were making almost seven figures.  The client himself got a seven figure offer to go in house.  That said, the expert used “reasonable compensation” that was more than $750,000 less than he actually earned.  Needless to say, that skewed value in an unreasonable way and was disregarded.

It is important to understand the concept of reasonable compensation, question the experts about their assumptions and data sources used, to make sure that the “reasonable compensation” used in your valuation is not unreasonable.

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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 esolotoff@foxrothschild.com.

As our loyal readers may know, Eric Solotoff blogs annually about the so-called “New Year’s Resolution Divorce,” where the number of new clients walking through our doors spikes at the beginning of the new year.  There are, most definitely, verifiable statistics to show that this concept is for real.  A new cnn.com article, “In January ‘ex’ marks the spot,” sheds further light on the theory and, interestingly, suggests that the peak for divorces is March.

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The March filing statistics only further confirms the New Year’s phenomenon – new clients first meet with a divorce lawyer in January/February, learn and understand his or her rights and the benefits of filing, strategize, and, perhaps, shortly thereafter file a Complaint for Divorce.   The article was also interesting in that it further fleshed out the reasons why someone might wait to file.

  • Money, Money, Money – People often start fresh in the new year, and, for many people, year-end bonuses have been paid and can be used to fund divorce expenses, whether it be an attorney, mediator, etc.  As for whether those bonuses would be included as part of the “pot” for equitable distribution, many people believe that it will be excluded if he or she files for divorce before the bonus is paid.  The law, however, is not so black and white and will include, at least to some degree/percentage, a bonus that can be deemed as actually having been earned during the marriage, or attributable to so-called marital efforts.  There are several other legal components to such a discussion that we have previously blogged about and will be the topic of future entries.
  • Appearances – The article talks about how no one wants to drop the proverbial “D” bomb around the holidays.  It is certainly understandable that a person considering divorce does not want to tarnish what is supposed to be the happiest time of year for friends and family.  On the other hand, there could be potential legal implications depending on how long you wait to file including, but not limited to, tax filings, assets that are and are not subject to equitable distribution (alluded to above), and more.  Also, sometimes the relationship between you and your spouse is so uncomfortable (or worse), that the holidays may be even worse than if the news had been broken beforehand.  There really is no right answer, but traditional mindsets when it comes to the holidays suggest that appearances is a large part of the reason why people wait to proceed, or, at least learn about his or her options.
  • Emotional Readiness – This ties into appearances.  As a large part of going through a divorce is not only your mindset, but that of your children, being in the right frame of mind is necessary.  It is not just about a New Year’s resolution, since the article also talks about how the other uptick in divorces is after the summer time when school starts.  It is about a fresh start.  A clean slate.  Call it what you will.  It is about the time of year, whenever that may be, when you can focus on what you need to do for yourself, and, potentially, for the children, to ensure that you are ready for a divorce, efforts to reconcile, or whatever it may be to better your situation.
  • Time – Honestly, with everything going on around the holidays, who has time to think about a divorce, let alone file a Complaint.  The same goes for the summer time when people, in a more relaxed way, are traveling, getting the kids ready for the new school year, dealing with camp, and the like.  While the beginning of the new year and after the summer seem like extraordinarily hectic periods of time because we have to focus on getting back to the everyday grind, people seem more willing to find the time to address marital issues when school is in session.

So what does this all mean?  There is definite validity to the phenomenon discussed in Eric’s annual blog posts.  There is also no doubt that the divorce mindset and a return to  everyday life, with holidays and vacations behind you, are connected.

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Robert Epstein is an associate in Fox Rothschild LLP’s Family Law Practice Group. Robert practices in the firm’s Roseland, New Jersey office and can be reached at (973) 994-7526, or repstein@foxrothschild.com.

Sometimes litigants don’t want to settle but they don’t want to appear at a deposition or appear for trial.  Sometimes lawyers aren’t prepared, are afraid of trying a case or have other reasons that they don’t want to appear, either.  Like teachers who have heard the “dog ate my homework” excuse one too many times, I am sure that judges also hear every excuse under the sun to delay a matter.  Should they just grin and bear it and give the brief adjournment or should they force the issue?  If they don’t grant the adjournment and the party still does not appear, should a court proceed without them (even if the court warned that that is what would happen)?  What happens then? Should the other side consent to the adjournment?

Doctor Writing On Pad Stock Photo Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

These issues recently came up in the case of Ross v. Ross, an unreported (non-precedential) Appellate Division decision that reversed a trial decision because the trial court disbelieved the defendant’s (wife) doctor’s note and proceeded at a trial without her.  In this case, the wife was pro se.  After 4 trial adjournments, the trial finally started.  When it did, defendant told the court that she was having a medical emergency but was willing to stay.  The trial was supposed to resume two days later but on the following day, defendant’s doctor faxed the judge a note saying:

… is suffering from menorrhagia Started hormonal treatment today. I advise bed rest for then [sic] next 2-3 days, until her bleeding stops.

The Appellate Division was kind enough to add the following footnote, because we really needed to know:

Menorrhagia is the medical term for abnormally profuse menstrual flow. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary 741 (9th ed. 1988)

The judge apparently never called the doctor, on the record, or otherwise, to get to the bottom of the issue.  Rather, the trial judge denied the request for an adjournment, (1) because of defendant’s prior history seeking adjournments; (2) because the note was handwritten on a prescription pad, and because he was unaware of whether the doctor even saw defendant before writing the note.

Defendant appealed and the Appellate Division reversed noting:

Here, the note defendant’s doctor faxed to the court identified the condition from which defendant was suffering and specified the treatment required (bed rest for two to three days, or until the bleeding stopped). The judge questioned the legitimacy of the treatment the doctor recommended, because the note did not indicate whether the doctor had physically examined defendant or whether his conclusions and recommendation were based merely upon defendant’s “self-report.”

What information the doctor needed to have before making his recommendation is not common knowledge … Without input from a medical expert, or the doctor himself, the judge did not know that the doctor possessed insufficient information to have given the advice he did. …  Absent further inquiry, such as a telephone call to the doctor in the presence of the parties and on the record, the judge should not have concluded the treatment the doctor ordered was invalid.

The trial court also discounted the worthiness of the note because it was handwritten on a sheet from a prescription pad. There is, however, nothing about a handwritten note which undermines the substantive content of such note, per se. Certainly, the fact the note was handwritten does not detract from its authenticity. …

The Appellate Division recognized the trial judge’s frustration and the fact that people sometimes scam the system to delay things.  That said, there was no way to determine that in this case.  The Court noted:

We are mindful there are litigants who stoop to unscrupulous conduct in an endeavor to delay court proceedings. We do not suggest there are not instances when there is a reasonable basis to reject the authenticity of a doctor’s note or the legitimacy of a doctor’s recommendation that a litigant be excused from appearing in court. Each case is fact sensitive and must be examined on its own merits.

Here, however, there was not a reasonable basis to reject as unreliable the note from the doctor indicating defendant was suffering from a malady requiring bed rest. Given the absence of any evidence the doctor and defendant colluded to “game the system” or that the contents of the note were otherwise unworthy of belief, it behooved the judge to grant a short adjournment of the trial until defendant was well enough to attend court. Under the factual circumstances presented, we are constrained to conclude that the denial of the adjournment request was a mistaken exercise of discretion. Given our disposition, we need not reach the other points raised by defendant in this appeal.

Reversed and remanded for a new trial.

The opinion doesn’t say whether plaintiff objected to the adjournment or not.  If he did, all that got him was the expense of a new trial.  If he didn’t, the take away here is that maybe, in these situations, counsel might want to suggest that the doctor be contacted before disregarding the note and proceeding without a litigant present.

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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 esolotoff@foxrothschild.com.

As noted in yesterday’s post on  Minkowitz v. Israeli, the Appellate Division held that once you serve as a mediator, cannot then serve as an arbitrator, absent prior written consent to the dual role.  But the decision written by Judge Lihotz did more than that.  She seemingly opined upon what should be the “best practices” for binding arbitration, in large measure noting that the trial court was too involved in the process after arbitration was agreed to.

 

Flowchart And 3d Character Shows Process Or Procedure Stock Photo*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The decision noted, as follows:

We close with these observations.    Arbitration, particularly binding arbitration, must be purposefully chosen, and the parameters must be designated in a contract between the parties. If binding arbitration is selected as the forum for resolution of disputes, a litigant cannot jump back and forth between the court and the arbitral forum. By its very nature, arbitration does not permit such a hybrid  system.  Further,  arbitration “should be a fast and inexpensive way to achieve final resolution of . . . disputes and not merely a way-station on route to the courthouse,” Borough of E. Rutherford, supra, 213 N.J. at 201 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Attempts to return to the court, except to confirm the final arbitration award, are at odds with this objective.

In the matter at bar, the parties’ contract concisely defined matters to be addressed in arbitration, yet from commencement, the Family Part maintained involvement such as scheduling case management and entertaining a motion for a protective order, both of which fall directly within the adjudicatory responsibilities of the arbitrator. N.J.S.A.  2A:23B-17e. Moreover, the parties held a mistaken belief that court intervention was permitted to check the decisions of the arbitrator.   This is untenable. The Act’s provisions are unmistakable: once binding arbitration is chosen and the arbitrator(s) named, the court is no longer involved in reviewing or determining the substantive issues.     The court’s role is circumscribed to confirm a final arbitration award, correct obvious errors, and consider whether the award should be vacated, only when one of the limited bases set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:23B-23 has occurred.  The piecemeal approach  demonstrated here prolonged the final result and eliminated the main benefit of arbitration, “to provide an effective, expedient, and fair resolution of disputes[.]”    Fawzy, supra,  199 N.J. 470 (citations omitted).

Finally, had the parties actually followed the path of binding arbitration, the need for a PSA would be obviated because an issued arbitration award would be confirmed by court order assuring compliance. No separate agreement memorializing the order is needed. Insistence upon preparation of a PSA appears to result from habit, not necessity.

Lastly, we do not mean to suggest parties who seek to arbitrate disputes should abandon all hope of amicable resolution.   We urge parties to exhaust possible settlement alternatives prior to contracting for arbitration.   If arbitration is accepted, parameters for settlement discussions should be set by the arbitrator.  (Emphasis added.)

I think that this last part of the case will be particularly helpful to the bench and bar.  I have seen judges handle this in a whole host of ways, without any hint of uniformity.  What this doesn’t say is what should happen procedurally with the divorce.  I have had some judges insist that the parties get divorced before going to arbitration, which brings with it a whole host of COBRA and ERISA issues, to name a few.  Other judges, who allowed the parties to proceed to arbitration, actively case managed the arbitration to make sure that it proceeded quickly, even if the parties and arbitrator wanted otherwise.  This is clearly because the case remains on the active docket and thus could look bad from a statistics perpective.  A resolution suggested by others would be to create an “arbitration track” to take these cases out of the normal divorce case statistics. In any event, any guidance to procedural uniformity is a good thing.

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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 esolotoff@foxrothschild.com.

Today I came across a blog entry by a divorce mediator which was nothing short of an attack on "best lawyers."  It appeared as though the ills of the divorce world were placed at the feet of the best divorce lawyers. Lawyers were castigated for such sins as discovery (obtaining financial documents) and seeking court assistance when you want temporary support or time with the children. He said that any lawyer can get the same result and that hiring a good lawyer sets the client up for a racket that is in the lawyer’s best interests, but not the client’s.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that I have seen attacks on lawyers from the mediation community.  There appears to be a turf war.  Either you are mediation friendly, or you are not.    Rather than recognizing that some cases are more amenable to mediation than others, the followers would rather attack the "non believers."  

While I agree that most cases will settle, many cases take a fair amount of discovery and litigation to get there. To believe otherwise is simply naive. 

Further, while mediation is not for everyone, it is a useful tool in many cases, Then again, just as not all attorneys are alike, neither are all mediators.  In fact, I suspect that the author of the blog that I read would agree that not every mediator can get the same result – though he says that any lawyer can. 

In a prior blog from May 2009, I wondered whether the mediator’s goal was a fair settlement or just a settlement.  To see another blog post on mediation that I authored, click here.  Are parties, often the woman being protected from the imbalance of power that permeated the marriage?  Are people being told of their rights when they appear at mediation without lawyers?  What efforts are made to ensure full and accurate disclosure?  Are the appropriate appraisals being done at all, and when done, are they being challenged and scrutinized to make sure that they are fair and accurate? 

There is no doubt that mediation and other methods of alternate dispute resolution can be a good thing. That said, I have often seen mediations result in a "settlement", but one where the disadvantaged spouse got a "deal" that was neither fair nor reasonable, if not unconscionable. The problem in these cases is that often, once there is an "agreement", the person that got the great deal refuses to concede anything. Thus, a method meant to avoid litigation can often create litigation.  Many of these deals came from the "best mediators." 

That said, rather than attacking lawyers, mediators should recognize that there is a place for the best attorneys and the best mediators.  I posit that the best and most fair mediated settlements will result from the attorneys and mediators working together rather than attacking each other.  I am sure that we can all agree that a fully informed settlement, where both parties interests are fully protected, is optimum. 

For parties whose combined net after tax income is less than approximately $185,000, there are  Child Support Guidelines that control what the support should be.  Generally, people cannot agree to pay less child support than is mandated and, in fact, it is well settled that a custodial parent cannot bargain away their right to child support because in theory, the support belongs to the child, not the parent.  On the other hand, if you agree to pay more child support than the Guidelines call for, you may be stuck with that deviation in perpetuity.

This fact was highlighted in the recent unreported case of Foster v.McGee.  In this case, the husband had researched the child support when the parties settled and proposed a number that he believed was in accordance with the Guidelines.  In fact, the parties’ Agreement reflects that the sum was determined after considering the Guidelines.  The wife was represented by counsel in the divorce, the husband was not.  Turns out, the husband figured the support out incorrectly, and support which should have been $198 per week under the Guidelines, was agreed to at $289 per week

Because this was determined not to be "mutual mistake" and that the increased support was in the children’s best interests, the husband did not get relief.

That said, the parties later had a verbal agreement to modify the support to $240 per week.  Even though the parties’ agreement said that changes had to be in writing, since there was no dispute as to the modification, it too was confirmed.  From a practical perspective, it is better to get any modifications confirmed in a writing.

However, as to the original point, was a fair result achieved?  If the Agreement suggests that the Guidelines were considered, then if there was not "mutual mistake", then were there sharp dealings?  Did the wife, who was represented by counsel. know that the Guidelines called for lower support by remained silent?  Moreover, when you submit your Judgment of Divorce, a Child Support Guideline Worksheet is supposed to be attached?  One think that if this happened, the mistake would be obvious?  If not, then why not"  Also, as noted in the opinion, there are supposed to be findings made by a trial judge if there is going to be a deviation from the Guidelines.  it does not appear to have happened here. 

While extra support will almost inevitably be in a child’s "best interest".  That said, one wonders whether a fair result occur ed in this case.

 

Earlier this year, I blogged on the Houseman v. Dare case decided by the Appellate Division in a reported (precedential) opinion that held that  the special subjective worth of a pet to a party must be considered . Similarly, there were allegations there there was a specific agreement that one party would keep the dog, which was breached by the other party and Appellate Division remanded, as well, to consider whether there was an agreement. 

To see the prior post, click here.  To see the full text of the Appellate Division’s decision, click here.

During the remand that was recently decided, the trial court,  in a somewhat Solomonic fashion, decided that the dog was to spend equal time with each party.  This seems to ignore the contract aspect of the case.  If more facts come out about this, we will update this post accordingly.

Per news reports, the trial judge stated that this was not a "custody arrangement" because, dogs are not children and do not get the same consideration. Despite the Appellate Division ruling, the judge reiterated that the dog was really no more than property.

Health care reform has been a hot topic as of late, as many Americans passionately debate the merits of the drastic changes being proposed by our current President and where we as a country will ultimately end up on this issue.  With that in mind and on the heels of last night’s presidential speech on the issue, now is a good time to review the role of health insurance after a divorce, since non-employee spouses are often understandably concerned about how they will pay for their medical bills and those of the dependent children. 

In a typical situation, one spouse has "family" insurance coverage obtained through his or her employer, providing coverage for themselves and their dependents.  While that spouse may continue to provide coverage for the children once a divorce occurs, the other spouse may no longer be covered because they are now legally independent from the employed spouse.  The insurance company will therefore simply not allow such an arrangement to take place.  During the divorce process itself, however, the insurance policy may continue to cover the other spouse.

Continue Reading THE ROLE OF HEALTH INSURANCE IN DIVORCE

Trials are often won or lost based upon credibility determinations.  More often than not, cases are replete with he said/she said situations, or real differences of opinion as to almost every issue.  In an interesting unreported Appellate Decision released on July 15, 2009, credibility was critical.  As the author of this post was the successful trial and appellate attorney in this matter, I am fully familiar with the facts. 

Aside from being important at trial, credibility determinations cannot be overturned on appeal.  On top of that, as long as the Appellate Division finds that there was sufficient credible evidence in the record, the trial court opinion will be upheld.

In this case, the issues were more than he said she said. In the six months between when the wife said that she wanted to get divorced and the filing of the divorce complaint, the husband’s law practice which had been growing and flourishing each year, suddenly became less profitable, if he was to be believed.  He was not believed.  Both the wife’s testimony as well as her forensic accounting expert’s testimony were deemed more credible. 

It was not just the wife’s word that was so compelling.  Rather, at trial we produced thousands of pages of exhibits that supported the issues we presented.  It was not surprising, on appeal, that defendant argued that there was no evidence in the record – but to do so, he had to fail to comply with the rules and submit the trial evidence.  The wife was forced to remedy this. 

On almost every issue at trial, the husband was deemed not credible. This included findings of discrepancies in his Case Information Statement, violation of Court Orders, lack of credibility regarding the marital standard of living and his income, etc.  The Appellate Division’s assessment of the husband was perhaps even more severe:

Finally, in an amended notice of appeal, defendant seeks review of an order entered on September 24, 2007 denying his motion for recusal of the trial judge. Defendant claims that "the trial [judge] made several inappropriate credibility determinations about defendant and his experts to justify rejecting the testimony and objective evidence presented at trial." After reviewing the record, we find no evidence of bias
against defendant. The court made credibility determinations based upon the evidence presented and defendant’s demeanor and testimony. We give great deference to the trial court’s credibility findings and will not upset them unless they are patently contrary to the credible evidence in the record. State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 470-71 (1999).

Moreover, if this had been a jury trial, the court could have given the "False in One, False in All" charge, instructing the jury that if it found that defendant had testified untruthfully in one instance, it could find his entire testimony to be untruthful. Since numerous discrepancies in defendant’s financial information were brought to light during trial, the "False in One, False in All" principle applies.

The ramifications of not being truthful are rarely so clear.  We are obviously proud of the result obtained for our client in this case.