N.J. Court: Russian man can’t run from one family case while pressing another
By Matt Rooney, Esq. | DeMichele & DeMichele, P.C.
The wheels of justice turn slowly. Everyone knows that.
A New Jersey Appellate court recently added a new wrinkle: you can’t stop the wheel for one case while trying to speed-it-up for another related one.
In the Matison v. Lisnyansky decision, which was just approved for publication on January 13, 2016, a panel of three New Jersey appellate judges panel found that a man who fled to Russia after nonpayment of child support AND palimony could not have his cake and eat it, too. In this case, that meant appealing his custody and palimony judgments entered against him while simultaneously fleeing arrest warrants related to his failure to pay support. There had been multiple adjournments and no-show appearances at the trial level prior to the appellate court’s ruling.
Here, defendant has been avoiding his court-ordered responsibility to support his two children while at the same time seeking to be heard by the court with regard to other issues in the litigation. He seeks to avoid the imposition of the doctrine because one of the issues in the case involves custody. We agree that the doctrine is not generally consistent with a proper analysis of the best interests of the child. See id. at 133 (stating that “whatever limits the fugitive disentitlement doctrine might impose in other settings would not be applicable in a custody case in which no enforcement issue exists”). Here, however, defendant has been afforded contact with his children by way of continued “supervised parenting time to be arranged as between the parties.” Defendant offers no custodial alternative, nor did he complain about custody throughout the litigation — waiting until the last possible date to file a motion to vacate default judgment. He may always reopen the issue of custody should he be in a position to offer his children a viable custodial alternative. See Hand v. Hand, 391 N.J. Super. 102, 105 (App. Div. 2007) (stating that a party can modify a custody order by demonstrating “changed circumstances that affect the welfare of the children”). We decline to afford him the protection of the court while he flaunts the court’s authority from overseas.”
Are you grappling with a complicated international or custody dilemma stemming from a New Jersey family court order or judgment?
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