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Maceri’s Successful Legal Argument Before the Appellate Division

By Snyder Sarno D'Aniello Maceri & da Costa LLC on June 04, 2018


Our firm’s accomplished partner, Joseph V. Maceri, Esq., successfully represented the plaintiff in the post-judgment matter of Giarusso v. Giarusso before the New Jersey Family Court and recently before the New Jersey Appellate Division.  The Giarusso matter involved an application for attorneys’ fees in a matrimonial matter by plaintiff’s prior attorneys.  The prior law firm had represented the plaintiff in connection with post-judgment matrimonial proceedings and sought $99,356 in a post-judgment fee application as well as a charging lien under the Attorney’s Lien Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:13-5.  

After a full trial, the Family Part Judge accepted Mr. Maceri’s legal arguments and held that the Attorney’s Lien Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:13-5, does not apply to legal services performed entirely post-judgment.  The Family Court Judge also rejected petitioner’s request for an award of $99,356 for outstanding legal fees against plaintiff.  The Family Part found that only $50,000 of the $99,356 to be reasonable value of the firm’s services.  The Family Part Judge found that the petitioner did not meet his burden of proof.  The Family Part Judge stated petitioner only provided “half of the picture” by only providing the court with time expended for legal services.   The court stated that petitioner failed to provide description of work performed, so the court only awarded “half of the legal fees.”    The petitioner appealed the Family Part’s ruling.

On the appeal, in a published decision, a three-judge Appellate Division panel affirmed the Family Part’s ruling that the Attorney Lien Act does not apply to legal services performed post-judgment.   The Appellate Division also held that attorneys involved in fee disputes do not have to file separate actions in the Law Division, allowing attorneys to file a petition in the underlying action even in cases where Attorney Lien Act does not apply.

The Appellate Division further held that “although the [Family Part] judge attempted to analyze the time expended by petitioner, he failed to make the substantive findings of fact and conclusions of law required by Rule 1:7-4(a) to provide the basis for his decision to award one-half of the fees sought.”  The Appellate Division held that the fee issue would be remanded to the Family Part to make a complete record and render findings and conclusions.   The Appellate Division noted case will be assigned to a new Family Part Judge because the prior judge has since retired.

Mr. Maceri’s successful legal argument before the Appellate Division, which has resulted in a published decision, has created legal precedent that now clarifies the scope of the Attorney Lien Act.

Mr. Maceri manages the firm’s Bergen County Office located at 401 Hackensack Avenue, Suite 706, Hackensack, NJ 07601.

If you have any questions regarding a family law matter, please contact the skilled matrimonial attorneys at Snyder Sarno D’Aniello Maceri & da Costa LLCCall us today at (973) 274-5200.  

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