In a recent NJ divorce dispute, Huneen Ijaz v. Maqsood Ahmad, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, Docket No. A-2746-21, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s order granting Wife’s various spousal and child support awards and denying Husband’s order to show cause to prevent the Wife from selling their marital home. Specifically, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s order granting Wife’s cross-motion to award her $200,000 in proceeds from the sale of the parties’ former marital home; holding Husband in violation of her rights for not paying child support; correcting Husband’s child support arrears (overdue debt); and awarding her attorneys’ fees.
The Facts of the Case
As the court’s opinion explained, the parties were married for thirteen years before divorcing under a default final judgment of divorce (JOD). The JOD incorporated the parties’ marital settlement agreement (MSA) and its supplement (SMSA), which granted Wife ownership of their former marital home and one of the parties’ businesses. Additionally, Wife waived her right to seek child support from Husband, despite having sole custody of their two minor children. However, neither agreement addressed the proceeds from Husband’s sale of a separate home or ownership of a deli that Husband owned and operated during the marriage.
Husband then alleged that Wife wrongfully withdrew $200,000 from their joint account in proceeds from the Husband’s sale of the second home. Wife argued that Husband actually had her issue checks from the $200,000 for each of the parties’ business expenses. The Wife filed a motion to compel Husband to transfer title of the marital home to her and establish Husband’s child support obligation, arguing that the MSA’s waiver was unenforceable. The trial judge granted both requests. Later, the Husband filed an order to show cause to prevent Wife from selling the marital home, repeating his allegation that she improperly withdrew proceeds from the sale of the second home.
Ultimately, the trial judge credited Wife’s testimony and denied Husband’s order to show cause, directing $200,000 in trust from the sale of the marital home to go to Wife. The judge also awarded Wife child support and attorneys’ fees. On appeal, Husband argued that (1) the trial judge abused her discretion in allowing Wife to retain the $200,000 she withdrew from the parties’ joint account; and (2) Wife “committed fraud by changing ownership” of his deli business.
The Appellate Court’s Decision
The appeals court rejected both arguments. First, the court declined to consider Husband’s evidence on appeal that the trial judge decided to exclude from the hearing. The court asserted that it would not address “oblique hints and assertions” not related to Husband’s main points on appeal.
Second, the court found no basis to conclude the trial court made improper findings of fact. Appeals courts tend to defer to trial courts on factual findings because trial courts observed the witnesses testify and heard the evidence firsthand. Here, the appeals court found no reason to reverse the trial judge’s order.
Third, the appeals court was persuaded by the trial court that Husband’s arguments lacked merit. And finally, Husband also improperly raised allegations on appeal that he did not raise at the trial-level hearing, including that the trial judge improperly “favored” Wife and thus should have recused herself. For all of these reasons, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s ruling in favor of Wife.
Do You Need a New Jersey Divorce Attorney?
If you or a close friend or family member is going through a divorce in New Jersey, contact Scully Family Law for assistance. Our firm has spent over a decade handling all types of New Jersey and New York divorce, alimony, and child support cases. We understand that family law disputes can be a major source of stress. At Scully Family Law, we will guide you through the legal process, so you can be sure that you are in competent hands. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call our office at 743-462-1122. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.