The New Jersey Statute of “Repose”, Cannot Be Equitably Tolled Without Extraordinary Circumstances
This week Glenn Milgraum, P.C. ( https://www.glennmilgraum.com/ ) was successful in obtaining a double victory for our client.
A simplified rendition of the facts: Child over age 25, after years of wondering, approaches Defendant social media and says I think you might be my father. Defendant agrees it is a possibility as the timing concurs with a time when he was with Co-Defendant mother. Since mother was married at the time of child’s birth, Plaintiff husband was believed to be the father, and was deemed to be the father. Plaintiff and Co-Defendant mother divorced when child was about age 7. Plaintiff, allegedly upon discovering that he was not the biological father of Child, now sues Defendant and Co-Defendant mother for “reimbursement of all back child-support”, as well as for punitive and other damages.
1. The court upheld the sanctity of the Family Court to hear cases involving the New Jersey Parenting Act which shall be kept “confidential” pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:17-42. The Family Court judge concluded that all reference of the matter is to be removed from e-courts and public scrutiny. (The matter having first been commenced in the Law Division and transferred to the Family Division by request of my client and the Co-Defendant.); and
2. The statute of “Repose”, N.J.S.A. 9:17-45(b) of the New Jersey Parenting Act, cannot be equitably tolled without a clear showing of “extraordinary circumstances" and without more than a mere allegation of “overt trickery or active deception”.
The statute of “Repose”, N.J.S.A. 9:17-45(b) of the New Jersey Parenting Act, specifically states that “no action shall be brought… more than five years after the child attains the age of majority.” Under the Act the age of majority is 18. The Act does not provide for damages due to alleged emotional distress. See: DW v. RW, 212 N.J. 232, 247 (2012). Under the Act the statute of repose runs for 23 years, and the clock starts to run from “the date of the child’s birth” RAC v. PJS, Jr., 192 N.J. 81,95 (2007).
In the case at hand, the Judge concluded that “this is the type of case where the parties should be allowed to reasonably expect that the slate should at some point be wiped clean.” The child is 26. “Whatever happened is in the past, and it is time for the parties to move on.”