When a motion or complaint is filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, the applicant most likely imagines the outcome of their matter hinging on their attorney’s ability to argue all of the legal reasons as to why they should prevail before a judge in a courtroom. The reality is that, while it may be a considerably important part of the legal process, not all parties are entitled to oral argument. In fact, one must specifically request oral argument as part of their application before the Court will even consider it.
R. 5:5-4 provides that a court of the Family Part must grant a litigant’s request for oral argument where his motion embraces substantive issues. See also Mackowski v. Mackowski, 317 N.J. Super. 8, 14 (App. Div 1998). However, our courts have interpreted this rule as granting the motion court discretion in certain instances. In particular, when no evidence beyond the motion papers themselves is necessary to render a decision such that oral argument would be unproductive or unnecessary, the Court may refuse a request for same. Palombi v. Palombi, 414 N.J. Super. 274, 285 (App. Div. 2010). Additionally, where a litigant’s motion is procedurally defective such that the substantive issues cannot be addressed, the Court may deny a request for oral argument. Id. This means that when you file your motion, your papers better be procedurally sufficient, or else you could very well be denied your day in court with a decision rendered “on the papers”. Moreover, those application papers should address every issue you have and include each and every argument to support your requests, for if the Court feels it has everything it needs contained in the paperwork in front of them, you may very well never up directly face-to-face with a judge in court.
Courts have denied requests for oral argument where the court was satisfied that the motion is frivolous, repetitive, based on unsubstantiated allegations or intended to harass. Kozak v. Kozak, 280 N.J. Super. 272 (Ch. Div. 1994). Because of this, your application should be one that is absolutely necessary to achieve the relief requested within.
The important thing to realize is that oral argument, while important, is not the “end-all be-all” towards the outcome of your application. Of equal, if not more consequence is the content of the papers contained in your application.
Contact an Experienced New Jersey Family Law Lawyers at Lyons & Associates
To obtain additional information, and to ensure that your application is properly formulated, contact the family and divorce law firm in New Jersey of Lyons & Associates. Please contact us online or call our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced New Jersey divorce lawyers.
Written By: William Lemega, Esq.