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Michel v. Michel

Decided: December 20, 1985.

VIRGINIA A. MICHEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PIERRE MICHEL, DEFENDANT



Krafte, J.s.c.

Krafte

By post-judgment motion, originally returnable September 27, 1985, plaintiff-wife seeks reconsideration of this Court's order of August 20, 1985.

This Court finds that the increasingly frequent practice of filing motions for "reconsideration" of a prior order at the trial court level is without basis in the New Jersey Court Rules, is duplicative of court time and legal fees, and is inappropriately employed by dissatisfied litigants when their proper remedy lies in an appeal. Plaintiff's motion is thus denied.

The parties to this action were divorced in 1980, the Final Judgment having incorporated a property settlement agreement executed by the parties April 27, 1980. The agreement provides, inter alia, that the defendant-husband agrees to be responsible for the cost of post-high school education of the children of the marriage to the extent of his financial ability.

In August 1983, plaintiff filed a motion to compel defendant to pay the full cost of the elder child's college expenses for the year 1983-84. This Court entered an order November 17, 1983, granting plaintiff's application. Immediately upon receipt of the Court's decision, however, defendant's attorney notified the court in writing that the decision was based upon a misunderstanding of several statements in defendant's certification. The Court, in its decision, had stated that the defendant indicated

his willingness to pay certain amounts, when in fact defendant had never so agreed. This resulted in defendant's filing a motion for reconsideration of the November 17, 1983 order.

Upon reconsideration of the papers, this Court found conflicts as to material facts and ordered a plenary hearing. Rather than proceed to hearing, however, the parties instead entered a consent order dated June 28, 1984, by which the college costs for the child were shared by both parties, defendant paying a little more than one-half.

One year later both children planned to attend college. Plaintiff then filed a similar motion, returnable July 12, 1985, seeking an order compelling defendant to be fully responsible for 1985-86 college costs. Having examined all submissions by the parties, this Court found that the circumstances had not changed within the year such that defendant could meet the burden of college costs alone. The parties' respective financial positions remained substantially the same as they had been one year prior, when the consent order was entered. Accordingly, this Court entered an order on August 20, 1985, requiring each party to be responsible for one-half of the children's college costs.

It is at this point that the duplicative nature of the so-called "motion for reconsideration" becomes particularly apparent. While the ink on the August 20th order had hardly a chance to dry, plaintiff filed the within motion for reconsideration. This Court now has before it more than 150 pages of certifications and exhibits which contain mere restatements of the parties' original certifications. Plaintiff proffers no new facts or circumstances regarding their respective financial situations which would indicate that the August 20th order should be altered. At one point, she states that her motion is brought "because of a mistake in the Court's previous order", but elaborates on this no further. Thus the basis for plaintiff's present motion appears to be her dissatisfaction with the substantive

result which she claims is inequitable. Defendant's position, on the other hand, takes the form of a question: "How many times must I be compelled to litigate the same issue with plaintiff?"

The procedure employed by plaintiff herein is improper. Despite the frequency with which such motions are filed, there exists no provision in the New Jersey Court Rules which ...


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