No one expects a happy ending when it comes to divorce, but that ending can be especially bitter if you receive an unfair judgment. At this point, you may be wondering if there's any way to convince the courts to reconsider. The short answer is yes, but the long answer is much more complicated. First, you will need determine if there is a legal basis for the unfairness of the ruling. If the judge, for example, showed favoritism towards your spouse, or violated current statutes during the course of the trial, you may have grounds to ask for a reconsideration. However, if the judge acted in a legal and professional manner, and based the ruling on current statutes and legal precedents, it's extremely unlikely that the court would revisit your case. In short, just the fact that the ruling is less fair to you or much more favorable to your spouse, is not enough reason for the court to intervene.
Since the biggest hurdle is verifying whether you have legal grounds, you should begin the process by speaking with an attorney. Depending on the complexity of your case, you may want to speak with an attorney with the matrimonial law certification. These attorneys have been specially designated by the NJ Supreme Court for demonstrating superior levels of legal knowledge and trial experience in the field of matrimonial law. This higher level of experience is critical in determining which legal option would best serve your interests.
If it's only been a few days after your judgment, your lawyer may proceed with a motion to reconsider or set aside. The motion will need to explain the legal error that was committed, along with supporting
evidence. In addition to what was presented at trial, your motion can include evidence that you didn't know about until after the ruling. The evidence will need to show that your spouse engaged in legal misconduct such as hiding assets or giving false testimony. In this case, you can file a motion to set aside even after the 20 day period, but there is a one year deadline in most cases. Although it's rare, the deadline can be set aside under extreme circumstances.
The final option is to file an appeal, but keep in mind that the Appellate Division rarely agrees to review a case. First, you will need to show that there was a clear legal violation committed by your spouse, or that the judge's decision was contrary to, or unsupported by the current laws (abuse of discretion). This is a lengthy and expensive process that should not be pursued without an attorney. For more information on the appeals process in New Jersey, please speak with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Our lawyers include Vincent C. DeLuca, who is a matrimonial law attorney with over two decades of trial experience. Mr. DeLuca will be happy to advise you of your rights and legal options during a free initial consultation.