In an unreported opinion which was rendered on March 11, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division once again breathed life into the fugitive disentitlement doctrine. The Defendant, who has resided in Israel since 2007, appealed from a prior Order dated September 15, 2017 which sustained the bench warrant for his arrest for unpaid child support for 13 children and re-affirmed the purge amount for $100,000.00. On appeal, Defendant’s counsel argued that the bench warrant, which was issued in 2008 for unpaid child support, should be vacated and that the child support arrears should be viewed as “any other debt” because all of the children are emancipated and he was previously unable to contribute to their support because his work as an unsalaried rabbi in Israel prevented him from doing so.
John P. Paone, Jr., Esq., on behalf of the Plaintiff, successfully argued that the Court should refuse to consider the merits of the Defendant’s claims in his application because he is a fugitive of the law who comes to the court seeking relief from child support despite the fact that he consistently thwarted the court’s attempts to get his children their rightful support from him since 2008. Mr. Paone argued that the fugitive disentitlement doctrine was created for cases such as this where the defendant repeatedly sought relief from the court system without subjecting himself to the New Jersey courts and the ramifications for his prior actions.
Ultimately, the Appellate Division dismissed the Defendant’s application without considering the merits of his argument because the court declined “to afford [defendant] the protection of the court while he flaunts the court’s authority from overseas.”