Motions are utilized in Family Court as a means of requesting relief from the Court. In divorce matters and post-divorce matters, typical motions include those requesting establishment, modification, or enforcement of child support and alimony, as well as motions dealing with visitation, custody, relocation, college contribution, and emancipation.
A divorce motion filed before the divorce is granted is known as a pendente lite motion. A motion filed after the divorce is granted is referred to as a post-judgment motion.
In New Jersey Family Court, motions are generally scheduled to be heard every other Friday, although this may sometimes vary depending upon the Court’s schedule and other factors, such as the availability of the attorneys and the litigants.
The New Jersey Rules of Court contain a number of rules detailing the appropriate procedures to be followed when filing a motion. For example, motions must be served on the opposing party at least 24 days prior to the date that the motion is to be heard, so that the opposing party has notice as well as the opportunity to submit a response or make his or her own requests for relief in a filing called a Cross-Motion, which must be filed and served 15 days before the motion date. If the motion is being sent by mail, the filing party must allow three additional days, meaning that in practice, the motion needs to be sent out at least 27 days prior to the date it is to be heard.
Motions in FM matters (divorce and post-judgment divorce) that involve monetary issues will frequently require the filing of a current Case Information Statement, as well as the filing of previous Case Information Statements in some circumstances. It is important that the Case Information Statement contain all relevant attachments, such as current pay stubs, most recent W-2, and tax return.
Many judges in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties decide their motions “on the papers,” meaning no oral argument is held and the Court makes a determination of the issues solely on the basis of the documents submitted. It is therefore very important that Motions and Cross-Motion in Family Court be filed correctly, with all of the information and supporting exhibits the Court will need to decide the issues. For example, relevant previous Court Orders should always be attached, since the Court may not have those previous Orders readily available any other way.
Frequently, litigants who attempt to file motions on their own, even on relatively simple matters, fail to follow all of the procedural rules and requirements, which oftentimes results in the motion being denied on procedural grounds, without the Court ever reaching the substantive issues involved.
The Law Office of Jeffrey R. Brown, Esq., LLC assists clients with Family Court divorce motions, both pendente lite and post judgment, through central New Jersey, including Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset and Mercer Counties.