It is common for clients to believe that the Court has entered an Order incorrectly. Often, clients believe the Court may have missed important and relevant facts or evidence presented. As family law attorneys, we must guide and advise our clients as to the potential next steps to take when they present these beliefs to us.
I. Interlocutory v. Final Orders
First, we must determine whether the Order is an interlocutory order or a final order. An interlocutory order is an Order that does not resolve all issues between the parties. Orders entered during the pendente lite phase of divorce litigation are interlocutory orders. By contrast, a final order does resolve all issues between the parties. For example, a Final Judgment of Divorce is a final order.
II. Time Frame to File the Motion
Once we have determined whether the Order is interlocutory or final, then we know which Court Rules apply as far as the timing of the motion filing. All interlocutory orders can be subject to a Motion for Reconsideration at any time before the final judgment is entered. (Rule 4:42-2). By contrast, all final orders can be subject to a Motion for Reconsideration only within 20 days of the entry of that order. (Rule 4:49-2).
III. The “Why” of Why the Client Wants to File
The most significant piece of the Motion for Reconsideration filing is getting to the root of why the client wants the motion to be filed. New Jersey Courts have long held that a litigant cannot file a Motion for Reconsideration simply because they are dissatisfied with the Court’s decision.
Under Rule 4:49-2, reconsideration is a matter of discretion, to be utilized only in those cases falling into that narrow corridor in which either: 1) the trial court has expressed its decision based upon a palpably incorrect or irrational basis; or 2) it is obvious that the court either did not consider, or failed to appreciate the significance of probative, competent evidence. D’Atria v. D’Atria, 242 N.J. Super. 392, 401 (Ch. Div.1990).
Due to this restrictive and narrow standard, Motions for Reconsideration are subject to an abuse of discretion standard, which means that the decision was made without any rational explanation. In order for the Motion for Reconsideration to be successful, it would have to demonstrate that the judge overlooked a key piece of evidence that was in the record or the judge overlooked relevant and applicable case law.
Lastly, it is important for clients and litigants to know that all reconsideration motions are heard by the judge that entered the order that is being reconsidered.
For more information regarding Motions for Reconsideration in New Jersey, contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates. At the law office of Lyons & Associates, we represent family law clients throughout New Jersey. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-575-9777.