Multi-state Divorce Battle Ends When FL, MT Courts Order Husband to Argue Case in New Jersey

A long-running battle involving a couple who divorced in New Jersey likely ended recently as courts in Florida and Montana wrapped up cases there involving issues related to the couple’s divorce. The rulings forced the husband to return to New Jersey to litigate his claims that the wife mismanaged a trust that the New Jersey court had created as part of the divorce, even though he had moved to Montana.

When Edwin Jonas III and his wife, Linda Jones, divorced, they did so in New Jersey. As part of that court order, the judge determined that the husband owed certain sums in alimony and child support. The court also ordered that several pieces of property that the husband owned be placed into a trust, giving the wife the authority both to sell items in the trust and, if the husband did not pay the alimony and child support amounts, to satisfy those obligations through the proceeds of the sale of the trust assets.

According to the husband, the wife was derelict in how she handled her responsibilities in managing the trust. The husband sued the wife for breaching her duty to the trust and demanded that she account for how she handled the trust assets. The court denied the husband’s request because he had absconded from New Jersey but stated that it would hear the case if the husband returned to the state.

The wife obtained an order from a Florida court and a Montana court to enforce the New Jersey order so that the trust could assume control of the husband’s assets in those states. The husband renewed his mismanagement assertions against the wife in both states. However, in both Florida and Montana, trial court judges decided that, in order to make his case, the husband needed to return to New Jersey and see that matter through to its conclusion.

An appeals courts in Florida also agreed that the courts in New Jersey held jurisdiction over the case, meaning New Jersey was the legally proper place to resolve the trust mismanagement issue. If the husband had no recourse for justice anywhere except Florida or Montana, a court from that state possibly could have heard the case, but, as the appeals court in Florida pointed out, the original New Jersey court had already stated that it would hear the case as soon as the husband returned to the state to complete that case.

Today, people, whether for professional, personal, or other reasons, are moving from one state to another (or even making multiple moves) more frequently. This means that the state that heard and decided your divorce or other family law matter may not be the state where you’re living when a new issue arises. However, depending on the circumstances of your case, your new issues may still need to be litigated in the state where your original divorce or other court order was issued, just as Jonas was required to carry out his case in New Jersey despite living in Montana.

When this happens, you’ll need skilled legal counsel to help you. If you encounter such an issue requiring you to litigate your long-distance family law case in New Jersey, contact the New Jersey divorce attorneys of Goldstein Law Group. Our attorneys can help you work through the legal and logistical issues to ensure you get the opportunity to get the relief you need. Contact us online or by calling 732-967-6777 to request a confidential consultation.

More blog posts:


Judges Have The Authority To Intervene In New Jersey Child Support Agreements, New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Blog, Oct. 23, 2014

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