Search Site
Menu
 Whippany, New Jersey | New York, New York
Free 30-Minute Consultation 973-428-0800

When parties get divorced, usually neither party is totally satisfied. The goal in formulating an agreement is to have an end result that is fair under the law.

A lot of work can go into a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA), also known as a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), because it is the framework by which parties will be guided post-divorce. The parties may not be thrilled with the PSA, but if a party discovers that they entered into the agreement due to fraud, there is a way to right the wrong.

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division stated that upon the discovery of fraud, and the ensuing motion to vacate the parties’ PSA, the moving party was entitled to discovery and a plenary hearing.

In L.B. v. H.B., Appellate Division Docket no. 20-2-1258, the Court indicated that the defendant demonstrated an instance of testimony or conduct that “is willfully false, material to the issue, and the falsity could not have been discovered by reasonable diligence.” See Shammas v. Shammas, 9 N.J. 321, 330 (l952); Pavlicka v. Pavlicka, 84 N.J. Super. 357, 366 (App. Div. l964).

After 10 years of marriage, the parties signed a property settlement agreement and were divorced. The defendant and former wife, representing herself, signed the PSA, which had been prepared by her husband’s attorney.

She contended that at the time she signed the PSA, and when the judgment of divorce was entered, she was suffering from, and in treatment for, drug addiction and depression. Thus, she did not understand the PSA and was acting under mistake, fraud or duress. Among other things, she asserted that she did not know that plaintiff enjoyed an average annual income of over $600,000 for the three years prior to the divorce or what assets he had.

The PSA provided, among other things, that the defendant waived alimony and equitable distribution for a lump sum payment of $250,000. Without the knowledge of the husband’s annual income, she contended that she did not knowingly or intelligently waive her right to alimony and equitable distribution.

When the defendant later discovered the information, she retained an attorney and filed a motion to vacate the PSA on the grounds of fraud. The trial court denied the motion without a plenary hearing. However, the Appellate Division reversed that decision and remanded the case back to the trial court for a plenary hearing, concluding that given the disputed facts concerning the circumstances under which the PSA was signed, and the questionable nature of a number of the provisions of the PSA, the defendant was entitled to discovery and a plenary hearing.

If you have questions or seek advice regarding the divorce process, property settlement agreements (PSA’s), and/or equitable distribution of assets, please contact us for a free ½ hour consultation.

Our Offices
  • Whippany Office
    575 Route 10 East
    Suite 1
    Whippany, New Jersey 07981
    Phone: 973-428-0800
    Fax: 973-428-0830
  • New York Office
    420 Lexington Ave.
    New York, New York 10170
    Phone: 646-213-9053
Testimonials
  • "Without Tanya and her time, the really unpleasant experience of getting divorced would have been even worse. They were able to settle the matter very quickly and helped me fit this into my tight schedule allowing me to leave to move abroad for my dissertation research on time without having to delay the trip because of the divorce. They also did all of it within my very tight budget. Thank you so much for your help and dedication to my legal matter!"  - AG

  • "Tanya and her Associates are outstanding! What I admire most about Tanya is her knowledge of the law with her keen negotiation skills to foster mediation. Her strategies efficiently resolve conflict leading to the resolution of cases. She and her team have an outstanding work ethic, know what data are needed, and get the job done. It is a pleasure to work with such wonderful professionals."  - Tara, Whippany

  • "I found Ms. Helfand's knowledge and tenacity most reassuring during the ordeal of my divorce. She was steadfast in her guidance and was very effective in her negotiations on my behalf. I would recommend her without a second thought."  -Jonathan

  • "Ms. Helfand was very professional and helpful with our bankruptcy case. Her advice was very useful and helped us make the proper decisions for our situation. In addition, she was very supportive during a very difficult time for us. Finally, she set very specific fee expectations and there were no surprises when it was completed. I would use her services again and would recommend her, without question."

  • "She is Incredible, very quick responding to the other party. Very professional and courteous. I highly recommend her. She has a great passion and love for every single case."

  • "Tanya and her team were very professional handling my divorce proceedings. She was very proactive in making the other attorney finally get the process moving forward. I would recommend her to anyone looking for legal services."  -Scott

  • "Ms. Helfand strategized & processed, both, my Divorce & Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. As both cases were emotionally and legally challenging, Ms. Helfand proved to be an empowering Mentor along the path to clarity for which I am truly grateful.I highly recommend her legal expertise to anyone who is seeking a confident, savvy & caring attorney to become at peace with self and any legal matters."  -Vas

Media
VideosView All

Podcasts
view All

Press Releases