As with any other civil proceeding, a divorce trial generally results in one party receiving a more favorable settlement than the other. Judges carefully consider numerous factors, such as legal precedence, each spouse's financial circumstances and the child's best interests, in order to issue the fairest ruling possible. There are times, however, when a litigant may have just cause to oppose the judgement or order. According to Rule 4:49-2, “a motion for rehearing or reconsideration seeking to alter or amend a judgment or order shall be served no later than 20 days after service of the judgment or order upon all parties by the party obtaining it.”
For now, we will focus on “reconsideration”, which is a request for the court to reconsider its decision based on errors or questionable conduct. It's important not to confuse “reconsideration” with “rehearing”, i.e., conducting an actual hearing in order to reargue the motion. While these terms are often used interchangeably, a rehearing is extremely rare -- granted only in cases of major misstatements of fact or law, or when critical evidence that was not available at the the time of the trial becomes available. As you can imagine, a rehearing is a very costly and time-consuming process, whereas a reconsideration simply allows the court to correct or amend an existing ruling. Furthermore, a reconsideration can help both litigants avoid the expense and aggravation of the appeals process.
As mentioned above, a motion for reconsideration must be filed within 20 days after the service of the initial order. Please note that this is the date on which you were served with the order, as opposed to when the order was signed into judgment. Reconsiderations are typically based on one of the following reasons: 1) incorrect information such as using the wrong figures for alimony or child support calculations; 2) incorrect interpretation or application of the current laws; 3) failure to note important evidence; r) the decision was arbitrary, biased or unreasonable. Regardless of the reason, a motion must “state with specificity the basis on which it is made, including a statement of the controlling matters or decisions which counsel believes the court has overlooked or as to which it has erred.” Otherwise, your motion will come across as nothing more than a chance to air out your grievances.
It should be understood that it's very difficult to prevail on a reconsideration motion, which is why you should speak to your attorney before filing. In addition to advising you of your chances for a reconsideration, your attorney can draft a carefully researched and well prepared motion that will be acceptable to the court. Your attorney can also advise you of any other available legal options, including filing an appeal if the court rejectw your motion. For more information on motions for reconsideration, as well as any other concerns pertaining to your divorce judgment or order, please speak with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.
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