Hunter v. Humphrey

Default was recently entered against a husband who had attempted to represent himself in a divorce action after he failed to file his Answer and Counterclaim on a timely basis. The husband filed a motion to vacate the default so that he would have an opportunity to participate in the divorce action, but the Family Part Judge denied his motion. As a result of the default, the husband was precluded from participating in the final divorce hearing, and the wife obtained a Final Judgment of Divorce which adopted her unfavorable proposals for resolving the issues of alimony, child support, equitable distribution and counsel fees.

On appeal, Brian G. Paul filed a motion for summary disposition arguing that in the interest of justice the husband should be given his day in court. Normally, an appeal takes between 12 and 16 months to complete. In contrast, the summary disposition process is reserved for those appeals whose outcome is so clear that they should be decided on an abbreviated record, and normally get resolved in as little as 2 months. Although motions for summary disposition are scarcely granted, the Appellate Division agreed with Brian’s argument that the end result of this appeal could not be any clearer – the interests of justice necessitated the husband’s being given his day in court. As a result, the Appellate Division summarily reversed several portions of the Final Judgment of Divorce with instructions that the husband be given the opportunity to litigate those issues on rema

This case once again demonstrates the importance of retaining an experienced attorney anytime you are required to appear in court.

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