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Santiso v. Santiso

August 25, 2010


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Morris County, Docket No. FM-14-747-06.

Per curiam.


Submitted August 17, 2010

Before Judges Sabatino and Ashrafi.

This matter involves numerous post-judgment disputes between former spouses. After reviewing competing motions filed by the parties, the Family Part entered two companion orders on August 4, 2009, granting and denying relief in various respects.

Plaintiff Jose Santiso ("the ex-husband") appeals certain aspects of those orders, and defendant Gloria Santiso ("the ex-wife") appeals other aspects of the orders.

The parties were divorced in September 2007, and concurrently entered into a Property Settlement Agreement ("PSA") that was incorporated into their final judgment of divorce. Among other things, the PSA provided for limited-duration alimony to be paid by the ex-husband to the ex-wife through the Probation Department. The PSA also addressed issues of equitable distribution, including provisions that directed the ex-husband to pay the ex-wife $597,000 for her marital interest in certain business ventures.

The PSA also contained extensive terms with respect to a residence in New Jersey and a second residence in Florida, both of which the spouses jointly owned. The PSA called for the prospective sale of both the New Jersey residence, where the ex-husband was living at the time of the divorce, and the Florida residence, where the ex-wife was living.

Among other things, the PSA specified that the ex-husband would be repaid for "any necessary costs related to the closing" in connection with the sale of the New Jersey residence, as well as "100% of any structural repairs agreed to by the parties and paid by the [ex-h]usband." As to the Florida property, the PSA specified that the ex-husband would pay the mortgage on that property until it was sold. Meanwhile, the ex-wife "agree[d] to pay the real estate taxes in 2008, if the property is not sold before 2008[.]" The parties also agreed in the PSA to equally bear, after June 2007, the condominium fees and dues for the Florida residence until it was sold.

The New Jersey residence was sold in September 2008. According to the ex-husband, he advanced the costs of several items in connection with that sale, including the real estate transfer tax and monies spent on certain structural repairs. The ex-husband alleges that his former spouse did not reimburse him for those costs, despite the terms of the PSA.

It appears from the record that the ex-wife acknowledges her obligation to bear the costs of the real estate transfer tax. However, she disputes the ex-husband's other claims for reimbursement relating to the New Jersey property, arguing that the items are not adequately documented, and, as to the alleged structural repairs, not shown to have been reasonable and necessary. The ex-wife also contends that she was not given proper advance notice of the structural repairs on the New Jersey property before they were made.

Meanwhile, the Florida property was listed on the market but remained unsold. According to the ex-husband, the ex-wife failed to pay the real estate taxes on that property in 2008, or, for that matter, in 2009. Consequently, the mortgagee for the Florida property, Merrill Lynch, paid the real estate taxes and made a corresponding upward adjustment to the ex-husband's monthly mortgage payment. The ex-husband contends that the ex-wife has refused to reimburse him for these sums, or to allow him to take a corresponding credit against his alimony obligation. The ex-husband also contends that the ex-wife has unreasonably delayed and obstructed the sale of the Florida residence, causing a loss of value in a declining real estate market.

For her own part, the ex-wife contends that the ex-husband has been substantially delinquent in his obligations to pay her alimony and certain equitable distribution payments. She opposes any credits or offsets against the alimony that is due to her.

In March 2009, the ex-husband filed a motion with the Family Part seeking relief in aid of litigants rights. Among other things, the ex-husband sought credits against his alimony obligations for the Florida real estate taxes, the unreimbursed New Jersey closing costs, and other sums that were allegedly ...

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