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John C. Crimi v. Susan F. Crimi

July 29, 2011


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hunterdon County, Docket No. FM-10-307-01.

Per curiam.


Argued December 7, 2010

Before Judges Graves, Messano and Waugh.

In this post-judgment matrimonial matter, plaintiff John Crimi appeals from the portion of an order that denied his request to modify a property settlement agreement (PSA). Defendant Susan Crimi cross-appeals from a portion of the same order denying her request for counsel fees. For the reasons that follow, we affirm with one minor modification.

The parties were married on June 3, 1973, and have three emancipated children. They separated in 1997 and obtained a final judgment of divorce (JOD) on March 30, 2005. During a hearing on that date, the parties entered into an oral settlement agreement. The final JOD stated that the parties entered into an oral PSA that would be reduced to a written agreement to be signed by the parties.

A written PSA was signed by plaintiff on May 27, 2005, and by defendant on June 13, 2005. Both parties waived their rights to spousal support from one another. In Paragraph 10A of the PSA, plaintiff agreed to pay defendant $8,800,000, as tax-free equitable distribution over a period of five years. The agreement provided that plaintiff could receive a prepayment discount if he prepaid within the first three years of the payment schedule. Plaintiff subsequently paid $7,830,000 to defendant, and the parties agreed that he had satisfied his financial obligation under Paragraph 10A of the PSA.

Pursuant to the parties' agreement, defendant received title to her residence in Madison and the contents of the former marital home in New Vernon except for certain specified personal property; all personal property and assets in her name; and a $274,195.00 rollover from plaintiff's 401K Plan. Plaintiff also agreed to pay "the bridge loan taken to effect the purchase of [defendant's] current residence in Madison" until "the sale and closing of the New Vernon property," and to pay the following for and on behalf of [defendant], as additional equitable distribution": (1) all expenses for the New Vernon home "until the actual closing on the ultimate sale"; (2) "one-half of his salary"; (3) "defendant's credit card bills up to a maximum of $40,000 per year"; (4) "defendant's automobile insurance and gasoline expenses for her Lexus vehicle"; and (5) until December 31, 2005, "defendant's health insurance coverage costs" and the premiums on the "life insurance policy that defendant owns."

According to plaintiff's case information statement dated November 4, 2004, the parties' gross assets subject to equitable distribution were valued at $31,717,580. These assets included a business known as County Concrete Corporation (County Concrete) as well as various other businesses and real estate. In Paragraph 11 of the PSA, the parties agreed that plaintiff would receive the following:

A. All of his business interests howsoever named and in whatever form they may be incorporated or held, as set forth on his Case Information Statement, or otherwise in discovery.

B. All business and other real estate set forth in his Case Information Statement dated November 4, 2004, or otherwise in discovery, whether held in the name of a business, partnership, or plaintiff individually.

C. His residence [in] Tewksbury, New Jersey.

D. All of his personal property, bank accounts, and other assets titled solely in his name, including but not limited to, retirement plans, cash surrender value of life insurance policies, motor vehicles, and the contents of his home.

In paragraph 19 of the PSA the parties agreed "that each shall be responsible for his or her own counsel fees and expert fees." In the same paragraph, the parties stated they were satisfied with the services provided by their attorneys, real estate appraisers, and business appraisers.

With regard to the former marital home in New Vernon, Paragraph 10B of the PSA provided as follows:

The wife shall receive the net proceeds of sale of the jointly held property located at Welsh Lane, New Vernon, New Jersey, however, irrespective of the actual ultimate sale price, the husband guarantees to the wife that her minimum proceeds shall be calculated as if the house had sold for not less than $7,000,000.00, from which a broker's commission agreed upon by the wife shall be deducted, as ...

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