Equitable Distribution

Wife’s Petition For Enforcement Of A Judgment Of Divorce Barred By Doctrine Of Laches

In the family law, divorce case of Tomaini v. Tomaini, App. Div., 20-2-8344, the plaintiff sought enforcement of the provisions of a judgment of divorce requiring sale of the marital home and equal division of the proceeds plus a payment of $30,000 from the ex-husband to plaintiff and that plaintiff be designated beneficiary of his life insurance policies, approximately 20 years after it was entered and approximately 13 months after her ex-husband’s death and after the only asset of his estate had been distributed. The Family Part found that plaintiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine of laches. The panel affirmed, finding that plaintiff’s delay was inexcusable as it prejudiced the administratrix because it deprived her of defendant’s knowledge and testimony concerning whether he paid the $30,000 and prejudiced the estate by depriving it of the only asset with which it could pay plaintiff’s claim and that her delay in making her claim regarding the life insurance policies was unreasonable given her knowledge of the provision in the JOD and because by failing to bring her claim before the distribution of the assets of the estate, plaintiff prejudiced the estate’s ability to pay her claim. The panel also found that plaintiff’s claim was also barred because it was brought after the nine-month period permitted for creditors to present claims against an estate under N.J.S.A. 3B:22-4 of the probate code.

Reference: Case & Analysis, New Jersey Law Journal, 221 N.J.L.J. 1630 (November 16, 2015)

Filed Under: Family Law; Enforcement of Judgment of Divorce: Doctrine of Laches

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