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Burns v. Burns

Decided: December 4, 1987.

LAWRENCE A. BURNS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHELLE M. BURNS, DEFENDANT



Natal, P.J.F.P.

Natal

[223 NJSuper Page 221] This matter came before the court on a post-judgment motion by the defendant, Michelle M. Burns, for an order to compel the plaintiff to assist her in securing a Jewish bill of divorcement known as a "get."*fn1 The plaintiff filed a cross-motion to suppress that portion of the defendant's supporting affidavit relating to his demand for $25,000 to accede to the defendant's request pursuant to Rule 52 of the New Jersey Rules of Evidence.

Background facts in this case are important, as they are not in dispute and they present the basis for the final disposition.

Both the plaintiff and the defendant had been married prior to their marriage to each other in 1969. Since they were of the Jewish religion they felt compelled to secure "gets" from their prior spouses in order to properly enter into a Jewish contract of marriage known as a "ketubbah." Under Jewish law one cannot marry in an Orthodox or Conservative ceremony without securing a "get" from a prior spouse.

At the time the plaintiff and the defendant married, plaintiff willingly proceeded with securing a "get" from his prior spouse and then married the defendant under civil and Jewish law. The marriage did not succeed and a dual judgment of divorce was granted to the parties in 1982. Since that time the plaintiff has remarried, choosing not to proceed with first securing a "get." The defendant now plans to remarry but she believes she is bound by tenet of Jewish law to obtain a "get" terminating her prior marriage before she may marry again.

Defendant's attorney contacted the plaintiff to communicate her desire to have the plaintiff secure the "get."*fn2 Plaintiff stated his religious beliefs are such that he no longer believed in the necessity of securing a "get." Yet, plaintiff informed defendant's attorney, if the defendant would invest $25,000 in an irrevocable trust for the benefit of their daughter, with the plaintiff and another party of his choosing as joint trustees, he would secure the "get" for the defendant.

I. All of the facts necessary for the court to make its determination were set forth in supporting affidavits. Thus, there were no genuine issues of material fact. The court is not required to take oral testimony and may decide this matter

without a plenary hearing. Skillman v. Skillman, 136 N.J. Super. 348, 350 (App.Div.1975).

II. Plaintiff's request to suppress and exclude from the court's consideration that part of the defendant's supporting affidavit referring to his request for $25,000 pursuant to Rule 52 is denied. Plaintiff claims the discussion he had with defendant's attorney, wherein he demanded the sum of $25,000 to be placed in trust, was an offer to compromise the current dispute and should be barred from evidence in a court hearing.

Rule 52 provides:

OFFER TO COMPROMISE AND THE LIKE NOT EVIDENCE OF LIABILITY OR CRIMINAL WRONGDOING

(1) Evidence that a person has, in compromise or from humanitarian motives, furnished or offered or promised to furnish money, or any other thing, act or service to another who has sustained or claimed to have sustained loss or damage, is inadmissible to prove his liability for the loss or damage of any part of it. This rule shall not affect the admissibility of evidence (a) of partial satisfaction of an asserted claim, or (b) of a debtor's payment or promise to pay all or part ...


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