The phrases “he who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client” and “you get what you pay for” proved to be true in the recent unpublished New Jersey Appellate Division decision of Andreaci v. Andreaci, App. Div. Docket No. A-1934-08T31934-08T3, decided, January 25, 2010. In Andreaci, after 16 years of marriage, husband filed for divorce. The husband represented himself and the wife had a pro bono lawyer. The parties reached a settlement which was memorialized into a Marital Settlement Agreement and incorporated into the parties’ Judgment of Divorce. The Agreement provides, in pertinent part, the following:
- Wife obtained custody of the parties to two children and ownership of the marital home;
- The second home owned by the parties was to be sold, and the proceeds held for the education of the children; and
- Husband was required to pay $800 per week/$3,466 per month (Said sum was designed to cover the cost of the monthly mortgage payment of approximately $3,000 per month).
The husband quickly fell behind on his child support payments. He was incarcerated on a bench warrant for non-support, and borrowed $5,000 to obtain his release from jail. Thereafter, husband filed a motion to seeking to reduce his support payments and other ancillary relief. The trial court set the matter down for a plenary hearing and in the interim reduced husband’s support payments to $225 per week.