There is always something happening in Newark, New Jersey so I knew this morning would be no different.  I opened the heavy chamber doors and entered the Judge’s courtroom. Waiting for my case to be called, one could not sideswipe the fact that the courtroom was packed – like Kim Kardashian’s Louis Vuitton suitcase. The Judge was on the bench illuminating his vibrant personality – as always, he would not disappoint this crowd today. This particular brisk and sunny morning was notably more memorable than others. There were far more people sitting past the bar, which elevated interest right away to anyone who was fortunate enough to be a part of the audience.

At first, it appeared to be your usual cast of characters. There was the wife siting to the right. She was strikingly beautiful and appeared surprisingly composed. Her attorney, who sat immediately to her right, appeared relaxed, poised but noticeably bothered. There was an interpreter, repeating every word to the wife in Spanish. The interpreter whispered, “Es un regalo y nada mas.” Her attorney argued, “Judge, the father-in-law gave the parties the money. It was a gift, Judge. My client will not repay monies which will serve only to unjustly enrich the Defendant.”

The Judge’s eyebrows elevated far into his hairline. “Defendant certifies to this Court that the monies were a loan. He certifies he must repay this money to his father. Your client would, as a result, be unjustly enriched, counsel. This would not be a fair result, contrary to the objectives of the chancery division!”

To my left was the Husband; a robust young man, evidently upset and distraught. His hand met his head several times throughout the hearing; his forehead wrinkled with stress. He gawked at the Judge repeatedly as if to subliminally persuade the Judge he was right. Husband’s counsel was standing with his right arm raised towards the detailed vaulted ceiling, as to call the attention of the One above. A bit dramatic, he was most certainly effective. His theatrical gesture, revealing tone and three-piece Armani suit was fittingly convincing. “You see, Your Honor, the money could not have been a gift, it was a loan. Wife wants to benefit financially from this, Your Honor. She is being greedy. Pigs are greedy. Pigs get slaughtered.” I told you he was dramatic.

The Judge had heard enough. “Do you have a promissory note, signed by both parties? Do you have cancelled checks? Do you have proof of the interest paid or a portion of the base amount paid? No! You don’t! I have nothing before me to indicate this was a loan.”

Everyone in the room understood. This one was not going to be easy.

To complete the cast of characters, to the far left was an elder man, approximately in his late 60s. He had an interpreter lagging with a 15 second delay. The popular senior was allowed to intervene as a third party holding an interest in the outcome of the case. He sat up straight and had his sweaty palms grasped securely on his lap. He was holding onto the Judge’s every word. Next to him was his lawyer who commendably repeated, “It was a loan! It was a loan!”

The Judge continued, “Here is what I will do. I will order that the monies be held in trust for the benefit of the parties’ two year old son to be utilized towards his college degree.” Well, there’s a twist. I could almost hear an applause from the audience; but, then again, that might have just been me witnessing a judge vexing to do the right thing. How beautiful. “If there are any objections to this, I will hear them now.”

Fifteen seconds later, “Alguien en contra …” The elder man raised his hand as high as did the sassy lawyer. The interpreter appealed, “I object. It was a loan and I want to be repaid.”

The Judge sighed and shook his head. He ordered a hearing. The wife and the husband would be required to spend thousands of dollars on a mini-trial for what could have been easily prevented with a simple document evidencing the intent of the parties.

Distinguishing whether monies were intended to be a gift or a loan can be costly to both parties. We can help you gather the information you need to prove your case. Contact an attorney at Iandoli & Edens, LLC to learn your rights. We are here to help. 908-879-9499.