Involved in a New Jersey Divorce Case? You Must Personally Participate.
New Jersey divorce litigation can be an ordeal, and most divorcing couples would rather be anywhere than in court. Unfortunately, personal participation in divorce proceedings is a responsibility that cannot be handed off to a third party, according to a recent New Jersey decision.
In Marsico v. Marsico, eighty-year old Louis Marisico had given his daughter power of attorney to handle any legal action involving him. Though he had also retained legal counsel, his daughter appeared in court on his behalf and signed pleadings for him. His wife objected to the arrangement, noting that her soon-to-be ex-husband was not legally incompetent or in need of a guardian.
Ocean County Family Court Judge Lawrence Jones agreed with the wife. He ruled that, absent some showing of legal incapacity, both divorce litigants had to be present. In an action for divorce, he explained, fact-finding requirements differ from those of other types of litigation. Matrimonial litigation involves direct knowledge of private information and personal issues that can be central to the case. Litigants must be available to testify. They must also be available for cross-examination, and the court must be able to scrutinize their demeanor and assess their credibility.
Requiring both sides to participate fully ensures a more complete and balanced divorce proceeding, but it also adds to the burdens of the parties. Litigants may find the experience not just time-consuming but emotionally difficult. The decision also forces both sides to work closely with their attorneys at each stage of the case.
If you need legal assistance in any divorce or other family law matter, the first step is to call Salvaggio Law Group LLC at (973) 455-1220. We have the experience needed to help navigate you through the often difficult divorce process.