Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New Jersey Supreme Court
Plaintiff Donald Sachau and Defendant Barbara Sachau were married in 1964, and divorced in 1979. At the time of their divorce, the partiesâ two children lived with Mrs. Sachau. Pursuant to the divorce judgment, Mr. Sachau was to pay his wife child support, and Mrs. Sachau would remain in the marital home until the youngest child reached age eighteen. At that time, the house would be appraised and listed for sale within 30 days of the childâs birthday. The proceeds from the sale would then be split according to the divorce judgment. In 1984, the youngest child turned eighteen, triggering the sale provision. For the next twenty-two years, neither party took action to enforce their rights under the judgment. Mrs. Sachau remained in the home, and in 1990, began making inconsistent payments to her husband. In 2005, Mr. Sachau was unable to support himself, and as a result, sought to enforce his rights under the 1979 divorce judgment. In 2006, he sued to compel the sale of the marital home. Without holding an evidentiary hearing, the trial judge ruled that the marital home should be sold and that Mrs. Sachau should receive full credit for all the payments she made. Mrs. Sachau filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied and she was ordered to sign a listing agreement. Mrs. Sachau appealed, and the appellate court remanded the case to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing. Mr. Sachau appealed the trial courtâs evidentiary findings, but the appellate court adopted the trial courtâs findings. The Supreme Court found that the divorce judgment was silent on how the parties should value the marital home. The Court reversed the appellate court decision and remanded the case to the trial court for re-evaluation of its conclusions.