PAY, PAL

Income and Alimony in New Jersey

Lying about your income to get your alimony cut can be costly, as one litigant has learned. On Monday, an appeals court upheld a $125,000 fee award, saying "his attempt to perpetrate a fraud must come at a price."

When Eric and Marcie Gottbetter divorced in 2008, they agreed Eric would pay temporary alimony of $55,000 a year for three years, then less for six-and-a-half years. Less than a year later, he sought a reduction because his computer consulting business lost its sole client and he said he wasn't earning anything from his sideline of selling sports and entertainment tickets online. He got a temporary reduction to $40,000 pending a plenary hearing.

But based on discovery and information subpoenaed from PayPal, Marcie's expert determined he was netting about $14,000 a month on tickets and his own expert found $6,000 a month.

On the day of the hearing, Eric's lawyer, Steven Lane of Somerville's Lane & Lane, was let out of the case based on a conflict and Eric withdrew the motion. Bergen Family JudgeLisa Firko restored the original alimony and ordered Gottbetter to pay the shortfall. She later awarded the fees.

Marcie's attorney, Edward Snyder of Snyder Sarno D'Aniello Maceri da Costa LLC in Roseland, says "the guy got exactly what he deserved. He thought he was smarter than everyone else." Eric filed for bankruptcy but Marcie got the stay lifted and Snyder says he will go after Eric's retirement account for the fees.

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