A Superior Court Judge in Ocean County ruled that unless a person has been declared incompetent and needs the assistance of a guardian, that person must appear in court for a divorce in person. In a case of first impression, Judge Lawrence Jones made his ruling in Marisco v. Marisco (FM-15-1152-13-N). The decision was made a year ago, but was published this week.
The litigants are both octogenarians and wed in 1978. While they have no children, the husband (defendant) has an adult daughter from a previous marriage. He appointed her as his Power-of-Attorney-in-Fact, including authority “to institute, prosecute and defend any actions or proceedings brought in any court.” When the defendant responded to the complaint filed by the plaintiff, his daughter signed the certification as his POA. Plaintiff objected, which led to this ruling.
The court ruled: Nonetheless, for the foregoing [legal] reasons, there are significant concerns about a party utilizing a POA in a contested divorce. Accordingly, the court denies without prejudice defendant’s request to appear in this proceeding by power of attorney through his adult daughter. [Daughter] is not judicially authorized to sign pleadings, affidavits or certifications, or otherwise testify in writing or verbally on defendant’s behalf. [Daughter] may, however, testify as a witness in her own right on relevant matters within her personal knowledge, if called as a witness by either party.
After the judge issued his ruling, the husband began to personally participate in the divorce process and the parties settled their divorce.
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HT: NJ Law Journal