New Jersey Courts Can Supplant Property Settlement Agreements

Jun 19, 2017

In Deruvo v. Demeo, the parties were married for nine years prior to a 2010 divorce. Their property settlement agreement (PSA) included a provision entitling Plaintiff to ownership of the parties’ business, Quality Trans Parts, Inc., and the property where it was located. Defendant received other properties and $200,000 from Plaintiff over a period of time. The parties subsequently entered into a consent order requiring Plaintiff to pay Defendant $80,000 by September 15, 2015, or forfeit her ownership of Quality Trans Parts. 

Plaintiff paid Defendant $80,000 by September 15, 2015, except that she unilaterally deducted $1,422 for title insurance and $2,325 in per diem penalties. After reconsidering, Plaintiff paid the title insurance but not the per diem deduction. As a result, Defendant filed an application seeking to compel Plaintiff to forfeit her ownership of Quality Trans Parts. The court ultimately held that it would be inequitable to allow for roughly $77,000 of payments to be made to Defendant and then to force Plaintiff to surrender her interest in the business over a roughly $2,300 dispute. The judge found that, although the remedy was stipulated in the contract, fairness would dictate that Plaintiff not lose her interest in the property over a relatively small shortfall. The court did, however, find the Plaintiff was in violation of Defendant’s rights and required that she pay the $2,325 in dispute and also $4,200 in counsel fees. 

The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court, holding that Plaintiff paid the vast majority of what she owed to Defendant, and finding that Defendant was compensated by requiring Plaintiff to pay nearly twice the sum she wrongfully withheld.

If you have any questions regarding enforcement of your property settlement agreement or any order, contact the skilled matrimonial attorneys at Sarno da Costa D’Aniello Maceri LLCCall us today at (973) 274-5200.