motion for reconsideration

This post was written by Seth R. Parker, Esq., an associate in our Family Law Practice Group, residence in the Roseland, New Jersey office. 

I was recently before a trial court judge that had mistakenly denied my motion for reconsideration of his pendente lite Order on the papers because I had filed my application more than twenty days after the entry of his Order. When I politely advised him that his Order was not a final judgment or order and therefore was not bound by the prescribed deadline because each and every clause of it contained the phrase, without prejudice,  he seemed frankly puzzled. I then provided him with a supplementary copy of R. 4:49-2, and an Amended Order was swiftly issued.

When I recently read the unpublished appellate decision in M.M. v. M.G., I began to realize how a failure to appreciate this distinction of what is a final order and what is not, can have grave and sometimes quirky consequences in the world of Family Law. In that case, the Appellate Division reversed and remanded a trial judge’s decision to deny a litigant a hearing when he learned that he may not have been the natural father of his presumed son.

M.G., or Matt as he is known in the decision, was married to M.M., known as Mary, in 1989. Two children were born of their marriage, Lance and Adam. The parties were divorced in 1999. In 2009, Matt was adroitly approached by a family friend, Neil (I presume Neil ceased to be one after he spoke with Matt), and told that he, and not Matt, was Lance’s real father. Neil provided Matt with a paternity test that confirmed his belief.Continue Reading IS IT A FINAL ORDER?: A SYNDICATED EPIDEMIC

In New Jersey, in a family court matter, if a party’s position is unreasonable or taken in bad faith, the other party can seek reimbursement of attorney’s fees. This was the case in the recent unpublished decision of Ramirez v. Ramirez, New Jersey App. Div., Docket No. A-2035-08T32035-08T3, November 24, 2009

 In Ramirez, the parties were divorced by a Dual Final Judgment of Divorce entered on January 29, 2007, which incorporated a settlement agreement. Following the divorce, in three separate motions, plaintiff persisted in seeking a re-calculation of defendant’s income based upon allegations and documentation relating to circumstances that existed for several years prior to their 2007 divorce. In his December 21, 2007, decision the judge put plaintiff on notice that she had failed to establish a change in circumstances. Nonetheless, plaintiff filed a cross-motion in August 2008 and a motion for reconsideration on October 6, 2008, both of which continued to seek the same relief based upon the same allegations. As a result, defendant was compelled to incur “unnecessary costs” for which he is entitled to be reimbursed. Under these circumstances, the judge awarded and the Appellate Division affirmed the counsel fees awarded to defendant.Continue Reading Should You Make a Motion for Reconsideration?