Cross Examination by defaulting party allowed at divorce hearing.

If you want a divorce in NJ it is not necessary for the other party to sign the divorce papers, agree with the decision to obtain a divorce or even participate in the proceedings.  There are situations when one party simply refuses to engage in the process.  NJ law provides a mechanism that permits one litigant to get divorced when faced spouse who ignores the proceedings.  This is accomplished by having the offending party found to be in default.  The procedural requirements for finding someone on default are straightforward but must be precisely followed.  The summary below highlights the consequences of being found in default.  If you are served with a divorce complaint, respond promptly!


FAMILY LAW 20-2-1001 Lanzaro v. Lanzaro, App. Div. (per curiam) (12 pp.) Defendant appeals from a final judgment of divorce by default. The panel affirms, finding that the court did not err in denying defendant’s oral request to vacate default since he did not comply with the prerequisites of Rule 4:43-3 where he filed no written motion, and did not even present one to the court at the proof hearing, his failure to comply with previous court orders was contumacious, and he failed to present a proposed answer or any other filing to show a meritorious defense to plaintiff’s equitable distribution claims. The panel also finds no error in the court’s handling of the default hearing as there was no inappropriate questioning by the court, defense counsel was permitted to cross-examine plaintiff regarding her proposed equitable distribution of assets, subject to appropriate limitations for a default hearing, and defendant had no right to testify and present affirmative evidence at the hearing.

About Sandy Durst

Sandy Durst, Esq., is the founding partner of The Durst Firm where he heads the Family Law Department. Individuals facing a divorce benefit from the combination of legal skill, common sense and compassion that Sandy brings to each and every matter. Each case is given the personalized attention it deserves.
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