My name is***** and I will be helping you with your question today. This is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney client relationship. Unfortunately once a final settlement order is signed by the Judge, there is not much you can do unless you can prove that your ex did in fact hide assets during the property settlement
. Hiding assets from a spouse during a divorce is illegal. New Jersey family law
provides that married people have a legal relationship known as a fiduciary duty from the from the time they get married until at least the moment when they are finally divorced. This duty is the highest standard of trust and confidence that is recognized by New Jersey family law. This fiduciary duty continues through the period of marital separation
and, in many cases, until your property is finally equitably distributed. If you ex is caught hiding assets, then a court can order him to pay the legal fees and expenses that you incur in litigating the issue. He also can be forced to forfeit the entire disputed asset as a penalty for lying. Rule 4:50-1 provides that upon motion with briefs the court may relieve a party from a final judgment or order on the grounds of fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party. This rule may be used as grounds to set aside a final judgment of divorce, which incorporates a settlement agreement. Any relief provided under Rule 4:50-1 for any reason rests in the sound discretion of the trial court, and is controlled by case law and by long established equitable principles. However, the legal standard imposed by the courts imposes a difficult burden on the moving party to set aside a settlement. In the case of Wiengarten v. Wiengarten, 234 N.J. Super. 318 (1989), the Appellate Division set forth the elements that are required to be proven to set aside a matrimonial settlement agreement. The court held:In order to obtain judicial relief here she will have to prove that his fraudulent conduct in failing to disclose the true value of the assets was the basis of her decision to accept an agreement which was not fair and equitable…. She also will have to show that she was not otherwise aware of the husband’s undervaluation of the assets or that she would have been likely to secure such information but for the husband’s actions…. Likewise, a crucial inquiry might be whether the wife was aware of the husband’s alleged fraudulent conduct at the time she signed the agreement, and communications with her attorney bearing on that issue are certainly relevant to this inquiry. For example, she may have indicated to Diamond that, although she was aware of the potential value of the estate, she had settled because of a desire to amicably resolve their dispute as quickly as possible. Thus, to the extent the attorney’s testimony is necessary to the husband’s defense and is relevant to the issues raised by the wife’s application, if the information sought is not available from another source, the attorney client privilege should be deemed to have been waived… Id. at 327-28.In simpler terms, the legal test under Rule 4:50, requires that the movant establish the following: 1) The fraudulent conduct was the basis of the party’s decision to accept an agreement that was not fair and equitable; and, 2) the party seeking relief could not have otherwise discovered the deception because of the fraudulent behavior. This is a very heavy burden. Therefore, your legal paperwork must be top notch if you expect to obtain any decent results. Please let me know if you have any further questions and please positively rate my answer if satisfied. There should be smiley faces or numbers from 1-5 to choose from. This extra step will cost you nothing extra and will ensure that I will be compensated for my time by the site.