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Husband Wins Challenge to Vacate Portions of Equitable Distribution

In an unpublished decision, the Appellate Division in Dougherty v. Dougherty was met with an application to vacate Equitable Distribution provisions. Additionally, the Husband raised an issue never before presented on appeal, whether it is an abuse of discretion for a trial judge to refuse to recuse him or herself based on a prior work association with counsel for one of the parties.

The Husband sought to vacate provisions of Equitable Distribution in parties' Judgment of Divorce. He alleged the judge improperly restricted pre-trial discovery of retirement assets and income tax liabilities related to the Wife's 401(k) withdrawals. Additionally, the Husband claimed the trial judge's factual findings were not supported by evidence in the court's record. 

Ultimately, the court found the Wife had not disclosed all assets and ruled in favor of the Husband. The court reversed the pre-trial discovery order denying plaintiff's requests for bank records. The court ordered a new trial by a new judge because the trial judge entered unsupported factual findings. Unfortunately, the issue regarding refused recusal as an abuse of discretion was not addressed in the Dougherty opinion. 

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