Passaic Divorce Attorneys

With the economic downturn and slow down in the economy since 2008, there has been a lot more post-judgment litigation to reduce alimony and child support. Much of this litigation has been legitimate; other has been brought by opportunists, throwing around buzzwords and crying about the economy when there is really no substantial change of circumstance.  Moreover, there is no uniformity as to what a "substantial change of circumstance" really is and judges have been all over the map, from judge to judge and county to county.

One would think that after a 17 month job search that culminated in the alimony obligor accepting a job where he had a two hour commute to Pennsylvania and which resulted in a 22% reduction in his income from the time of the divorce would be a no-brainer substantial change of circumstances.  If you thought that, you would be wrong.  In fact, the trial judge in the case of Austin v. Austin did not find this to be a change of circumstances. The Appellate Division, in an unreported (non-precedential) decision released on December 6, 2012 reversed finding this to be "Lepis quality change of circumstance."

Even then, there may not be an automatic reduction in alimony.  The Appellate Division stated:

We do not suggest that the Family Part must reduce plaintiff’s alimony obligation. The trial court should conduct an evidentiary hearing in the event further review of the record
reveals a genuine issue of material fact. We leave open to the Family Part’s discretion to what extent, if any, the totality of the circumstances impels a permanent change in the alimony component of the PSA. However, that court must now treat plaintiff’s current employment situation and lessened income (and defendant’s present health concerns) as significant vectors affecting the ultimate determination of a fair and reasonable
alimony award.

Because there is no uniformity as to what a "Lepis quality change of circumstances" is, and because these cases are determined on a case by case basis, I suspect we will continue to see these decisions all over the map.


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 practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or

In our effort to provide the reader of this blog all of the serious (ahem) family law news we can find, a top source for family law news, the New York Daily news provided some fodder for this blog this weekend.  While I suspect some of you are waiting for us to discuss the Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez break-up, the story at issue is not that one, but the one involving a woman in England who divorced her husband because he wouldn’t play Fifty Shades of Grey.

In this case, it was reported that the woman, a successful banker earning $600,000 per year alleged that her attempt to jump start their love life with author E.L. James’s provocative novel backfired when her husband accused her of “unreasonable behavior.”  The husband allegedly blamed the breakdown of their marriage on that book.

Whether or not this book is causing similar marital distress, or perhaps the opposite, in New Jersey is unknown.  Since most divorce Complaints in New Jersey are filed citing irreconcilable differences, a no-fault ground, we don’t hear the same level of the detail regarding why a couple is divorcing.  This was not the case 7-8 years ago and before, when irreconcilable differences was not available and most cases proceeded on the fault ground of "extreme cruelty."  Back in those days, parties had to allegedly prove the reasons why the conduct of the other made it unreasonable and improper to require them to continue to live together as husband and wife.  Now courts really did not care what was really in the Complaint and the only testimony at a final hearing was testimony that the allegations in the Complaint were true.  That said, depending on how angry people were, you could get a few short paragraphs, or you could get an Encyclopedia Britannica of allegations. 

Since it was largely irrelevant, only served to raise and more costly and time consuming than an irreconcilable differences Complaint, the system is better for us not having to file cruelty complaints in most cases (we may still file them if custody is an issue and/or there is a tort claim being filed too).  That said, from a lawyer’s perspective, the cruelty complaints and counterclaims often afforded you, early on, to learn the true dynamic of the relationship in a way that better enabled you to strategize and otherwise help your client. Still and all, divorcing your spouse for not acting out what is in a book is a new one for me.


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 practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or

Lately, it seems as if everywhere I turn I am representing a party in a domestic violence matter, whether in relation to or separate from an ongoing divorce matter.  With these recent experiences fresh in my mind, I thought I would take the time to blog about the lawyer’s role in representing a defendant in such matters.  While it is easy to sympathize with the victim, oftentimes it is the defendant who is falsely accused or caught up in a situation where the victim is trying to get a "leg up" over the other party in the context of a divorce. On of our prior post entited the The Abuse and Misuse of the Domestic Violence Statute, published almost 2 years ago, is perhaps our most commented on post.

Whether the person is the victim or defendant, each passing moment is critical in the compressed time between the filing of the domestic violence complaint and the final hearing to determine whether a temporary restraining order should be converted to a final (permanent) restraining order.  I paraphrase one recent client’s opinion as to his wife obtaining a TRO against him – with one call by her to the police, his entire life began crumbling before his eyes as his family and career had been put at risk.  


Do I have to continue living with him during the divorce?  Can I force her to leave?  Can I just move out?  If I move out, can I take the children with me?  These questions arise during the course of almost every divorce proceeding, and the answers are often not what people want to hear.

In New Jersey, the general answer to whether you can "make" the other party leave the home during the divorce is "no," except if that other party commits an act of domestic violence that results in a restraining order.  Other than that, the options are limited.  For instance, there exists what is known amongst New Jersey family lawyers as "Roberts" relief, allowing a court to Order the removal of a spouse without an event of domestic violence, so-named after an older case that many courts choose to no longer even follow in light of current domestic violence laws.  We were recently successful in obtaining one spouse’s removal from the marital residence pursuant to Roberts, but the circumstances there were so severe that such relief was warranted to prevent irreparable harm from happening to the children. 

With such limited options, often the only choice for parties is to continue living together during the divorce.  If the parties are able to get along and co-exist, recognizing that children living in the home will potentially be impacted long-term by what goes on in the home during the proceedings, problems are less likely to arise.  By contrast, however, if the matter is acrimonious, there can be few things worse than having to live together, especially if the matter drags on for months, if not years.  During one matter in which we were involved, it took almost three years before the parties ultimately settled.  During that time, the parties continued to reside in the marital home together with their young children.  By the time the matter was complete, one parent had completely alienated the children against the other parent, reunification therapy was necessary and the parties were completely unable to be near each other, let alone communicate in a rational manner.  While filing a motion to address such circumstances is more than appropriate, there is only so much Court intervention can do when it is not there to oversee the day-to-day occurrences in the marital home.


Abdelhak v. The Jewish Press, Inc., et. al., a recently reported (precedential) decision from the Appellate Division, raises the always interesting issue of Jewish divorce.  While the divorce itself was not the main issue in the case, which I briefly discuss below, the case provides a relevant opportunity to discuss Jewish divorces in general and how they have been treated by New Jersey courts. 

Under Jewish law, a "Get" is a bill of divorce that a husband gives to a wife in order to "free her" to remarry.  A secular divorce will not do the trick, as the couple’s marital status will remain unchanged under Jewish tenets.  In such cases, the wife is labeled unceremoniously as an "agunah," or a "chained woman" so to speak.  What does that mean to the woman who wants to remarry?  The result is dramatic and far reaching, as she cannot remarry (and, simply put, most Conservative and Orthodox rabbis would not even perform a wedding for such a woman); and any children subsequently had with another man are considered children born of adultery.  A trickling down effect essentially occurs, where the children, grandchildren, etc., often can only marry other children born in such a situation or persons who converted to Judaism.  Unfortunately, this may place the woman in the position of obtaining an inequitable secular divorce settlement to procure the desired Get from the husband.