Most agreements submitted to the court for enforcement or final judgments made by the court are difficult to change. There is the option of an appeal or motion for reconsideration within a certain time frame following the decision. The argument at that time is usually that a wrong decision was made based on the evidence presented or there was some error of law. The remedies available for possible modification or amendment to final orders or agreements become more limited as time progresses.
Under NJ Court Rule 4:50, the following are examples of instances where relief on the basis of a post-judgment motion may be pursued: (1) mistake, inadvertance, surprise or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence which is likely to alter the judgment/order and could not have been previously discovered with due diligence; (3) fraud or misrepresentation by the opposing party; (4) judgment or order is now void; (5) judgment/order has been satisfied, released or discharged or it is simply no longer equitable for the judgment/order to have prospective application; and (6) any other reason justifying relief.
There are still time limits to consider. Request for relief under the first three instances must be within a year after entry of the judgment or order. Relief under the remaining three grounds must be within a reasonable time which is interpreted to mean in a timely basis after discovery of the facts giving rise to the application. This option for post-judgment relief is often sought in family law matters as it relates to final judgments of divorce and equitable distribution provisions. Relief is only to be granted upon a showing of exceptional circumstances with specific emphasis on an unconscionable change in circumstances; otherwise, parties will be held to what they agreed to or were ordered to do within the court’s discretion.