QUESTION: I live in New Jersey. My soon-to-be ex together with his mistress transferred a large amount of marital assets to her over several years prior to filing divorce. He is pushing me to settle. If I receive a partial credit for the “transfer/dissipation” in its “trial decision and order”, do I lose my rights to sue her (fraud)? If I take his “settlement offer”, which does not mention specifically about “credit for the transfer/dissipation”, do I still have my rights to sue her based on fraud after we sign the settlement agreement?
ANSWER: Based on the limited facts you provide alone, the paramour should be made a party to the divorce case. Your potential causes of action against her include fraud, fraudulent conveyance, civil conspiracy, conversion, unjust enrichment, etc. If you do not bring her in, the terms of any release usually contained in any settlement agreement (presumably what you refer to as the “settlement offer”), and/or the applicable statutes of limitations, and/or New Jersey’s entire controversy doctrine may well bar you from pursuing another action against her at a later time. The prudent course is to deal with everything now, in one action. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, including set offs and credits, which could affect equitable distribution, you should seek a piece (e.g 1/2) of the value of the transferred assets. Practically speaking, it does not really matter from whom you recover, as long as you do.
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