Family Motions Should Go to the Judge Most Familiar With the Case

Resman v. Resman, 2010 WL 4940039 (App. Div. Dec. 7, 2010).  In this case, which involved post-judgment motions in a matrimonial matter, the Presiding Family Part Judge had handled at least three prior post-judgment motions.  That judge warned the plaintiff in connection with the third motion that if the plaintiff filed any other frivolous motions, she would award the defendant her counsel fees.  Thereafter, the plaintiff filed another motion and the defendant cross-moved for fees.  The clerk’s office initially assigned the motions to a different judge.  At defense counsel’s request, the Presiding Judge took over those motions.  She denied the plaintiff’s motion and awarded the defendant $3,500 in counsel fees.  The plaintiff appealed, complaining that the Presiding Judge should not have handled the motions when they had been assigned to a different judge.

The Appellate Division rejected that argument, observing that “[s]ound judicial policy … supports, wherever practicable, one judge in the Family Part hearing motions in the same matter where he or she has presided over other contested phases of the case.”  The plaintiff had relied on the pre-judgment track assignment rules, Rules 4:5A-1 and 4:5A-2.  The court found that reliance erroneous since those rules, and the parallel Family Part pre-judgment track assignment rules, did not relate to post-judgment matters.