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The Family Court in New Jersey is a court of equity. Accordingly, old, if not ancient “equitable principles” or maxims are supposed to apply. One such maxim is that he…
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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve seen many a post about changes in circumstances and modifications of support obligations. In fact, Apple Sulit-Paralejo in our Atlantic City office recently published a post on the Ferstenfeld decision. The thing is with changed circumstances, in this economic climate and job market, it is a popular topic for courts and new decisions are being delivered on a fairly frequent basis.
Today’s post is about proving the change in circumstances and stems from the unpublished Appellate Division decision of Romito v. Romito, A-0486-09, decided March 29, 2011. This appeal came from an Essex county trial court decision made after Mr. Romito filed what was at least his second motion to reduce his alimony and child support obligations stemming from a 2002 divorce and property settlement agreement.
Mr. Romito’s application was supported by his Certification attesting to the failure of his remaining businesses and a sworn statement of his ability to earn $52,000/yr working for a friend’s business, similar to what he had previously operated. It was also supported by a current Case Information Statement and copies of income tax returns. Part of the relief sought was a hearing pursuant to Lepis v. Lepis, to prove the changed circumstances.
Ms. Romito filed a cross motion in response opposing this application and seeking other forms of economic and additional relief. Her application was supported by a Certification attesting that she and the children were in desperate financial straits due to Mr. Romito’s failure to pay his support obligations and his unfair competition with her business. She attested that Mr. Romito owned the business of his friend that he claimed to only work at and that he was concealing income and living a lifestyle inconsistent with his alleged reduced economic circumstances. It was also supported by her current Case Information Statement, tax returns and proof of expenses that were not paid.
In response, Mr. Romito denied the allegations made in the cross motion and attested that Ms. Romito’s economic problems were of her own doing and stemmed from her inability to profitably run the business. He proposed that if Ms. Romito would agree to turn the Montclair office over to him, he’d pay her $2,000/month in alimony (still a reduction from the parties’ agreement but more than he’d been paying).…