Michael E. Spinato, Esq. Represented Defendant-Appellant in Connection With a Motion to Terminate His Alimony Support

Michael E. Spinato, Esq. represented Defendant-Appellant in connection with a motion to terminate his alimony support obligation to his former spouse based upon her cohabitation and seeking to modify the custody and parenting time arrangements regarding the parties ‘ only child. Mr. Spinato successfully argued the matter before a three (3) judge panel on November 2, 2016. The Appellate Court, per curium, reversed and remanded both issues back to the Family Part for further proceedings. In its decision, the Court noted that the motion judge correctly cited the new law acknowledging that a court may find cohabitation in instances where the parties are not actually living together. The motion judge also found that the former wife was in a long-term romantic relationship. Based upon the record below, the Appellate Court indicated that the motion judge erred in “not affording Defendant the opportunity to conduct limited discovery to develop competent evidence to prove his case in a plenary hearing.” This application of the new law was critical to the decision in this case wherein the plaintiff’s boyfriend was not actually living in her residence, but in the same two (2)-family dwelling that she occupies. The Appellate Division also reversed and remanded the issue regarding Defendant’s request to modify the current custodial arrangement which the parties entered into at the time of the divorce. The Court agreed with Mr. Spinato’s argument that the motion judge erred in reaching its decision without addressing any factors N.J.S.A. 9:2-4. The Court also cited R. 5:8-1 which required the Court to refer the case to mediation under the circumstances raised in the motion papers.