Fugitive From Support Obligations? New Jersey Courts Will Not Help You

Dealing with an international child custody dispute? In a recent New Jersey Appellate court decision (Matison v. Lisnyansky), a three judge panel found that a man who failed to pay his palimony and child support, and who had fled to Russia, could not use the New Jersey court system to help him appeal the palimony and custody judgment against him. Mr. Lisnyansky remained outside of the country avoiding arrest on an outstanding warrant for failure to pay his child support when he filed his appeal.

Because Mr. Lisnyansky had a warrant out for his arrest, the court relied on the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement, which, the court stated, was not a punishment, but rather a way for the courts to enforce its orders “against those who have evaded them by fleeing either physically or constructively.”

Mr. Lisnyansky had avoided his court-ordered responsibility to support his two children, but wanted to use those same courts to appeal the orders entered against him. He argued that because he has a custody issue, the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement should not apply to his case. The court disagreed and stated that he was able to bring a custody matter when and if he had a reasonable alternative to the custody arrangement already in place.
The court summed it up concisely: “We decline to afford him the protection of the court while he flaunts the court’s authority from overseas.”

Are you dealing with an international support or custody issue? Whether you live in New Jersey or live outside the United States, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to represent complex international cases. Please contact us to schedule a time to speak with one of our skilled family law attorneys.

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