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Divorce, Family Law





Jeff J. Horn – Ocean County Divorce Lawyer


In another court down the hallway, Judge Citta presided over another divorce in the Ocean County Courthouse. My poor uncle thought to himself, “it could be worse.” He no longer had to look over his shoulder every time a police car passed him or someone knocked on his door. Being locked up was not as brutal as the anticipation of being arrested. 

This article is based on an excerpt from my book Rich Uncle Divorce – buy it on Amazon or read along over the next few weeks to follow my rich uncle’s real winning divorce mindset in Ocean County.


Inside the Ocean County county jail, his days were structured:  a somewhat edible breakfast, TV, lunch, nap, more TV, dinner, more TV and bed. Some days, he would break it up with some reading or exercise. He had become quite fat over the years. Sometimes, he ate to mark a victory or to celebrate; other times, he medicated by downing three entrées and drinking wine by the bottle. He was trying to maintain a winning divorce mindset in the Ocean County jail. Shi**y jail food would not be his temptation.


Before things went really bad, my poor uncle had maintained a winning divorce mindset.

Life had been good. Limo rides into the city, steak at Peter Luger’s, Italian food at Rao’s and rubbing elbows with the celebrities, politicos and fat cats at all the big sporting events had defined my poor uncle’s persona. His ego and waistline grew and lockstep.


My poor aunt never developed the winning divorce mindset. Her divorce in Ocean County was hell. 


Today, my poor aunt, his wife, was letting the divorce judge in Ocean County know that she had had enough. She complained bitterly about her life falling apart. No more exclusive shopping days, no more luxury cars, no more upscale vacations, no more country club, no more unlimited budget for hair and beauty needs. She dramatically presented that she was down to eating rice and beans and that my poor uncle was eating better in the county jail.


My poor uncle was losing it all except his winning divorce mindset.

She railed about my poor uncle hiding sums of money, riding around in a Mercedes convertible and still hobnobbing with the well-to-do. She claimed to have seen cash in a safe. “$1.5 million,” she screamed. She claimed to be aware of a Cayman Island account. She claimed to have seen paperwork from the now-defunct international money shielding law firm “Moss something or other.”


My poor aunt was losing her mind – the fatal opposite of a winning divorce mindset in Ocean County.


She explained how my poor uncle’s parents methodically hid money for him. She told Judge Citta why she was appearing by herself. Yes, she had had another falling out with her seventh lawyer. Between my poor uncle and my poor aunt, they had seen 20 of the region’s top divorce lawyers. Some they consulted to sincerely get advice and considered retaining. Others they saw just to block the other spouse from hiring a top practitioner.


After the first day when my poor aunt’s first lawyer rushed into court for an order to freeze my poor uncle’s assets and Judge Rose crushed him, Judge Citta presided over the case for 3 1/2 years. The case began with my poor aunt’s lawyer uttering the following monologue: “Your Honor knows that I do not like to bring emergency applications. Too many false emergencies divert the court’s precious trial time from the serious to the frivolous.

In this case, however,

 I present to you a man who you will be hard-pressed to find a woman on the East Coast who he has not slept with, to find a celebrity that he has not sucked up to and a business partner whom he has not fleeced out of seven figures. We all endured the 2008 financial crash and had a front row seat to the damage done by Bernie Madoff. Before the money disappears, before the partners swoop in, before the IRS seizes assets, before my client ends up as the collateral damage innocent to her husband’s business practices, freeze his assets, appoint a special master and save this family.”


Their lifestyle had been propped up by bubble gum and bailing wire – no way to maintain a winning divorce mindset in Ocean County.

Those words replayed in the judge’s head. 3 ½ years ago, this seemed like a bunch of drama designed to please a scorned spouse. Like so many formerly wealthy people in divorce court, my poor uncle and my poor aunt once had it all. The problem for both of them was that “all” was never good enough. My poor aunt’s lawyer would lead the casual listener to conclude that my poor uncle alone blew all of the money and on occasion acted the scoundrel. By omission or commission, my poor aunt was right behind my poor uncle.


These words prophesied doom, but the story had already been written.


Today was the final day of the 3 ½-year divorce Odyssey. Neither my poor uncle nor my poor aunt was represented by an attorney. No matter what judgment Judge Citta ordered, nobody was getting a thing other than a pile of debt, civil lawsuits and tax liens.


For my poor aunt, the last kick was that Judge Citta would have to release my poor uncle. My poor uncle’s false winning divorce mindset in Ocean County – appeared to have worked.


“I have no power to hold him. The Constitution simply does not permit me to hold him because he owes money. He has a constitutional right to counsel, and debtor’s prison was outlawed centuries ago. I’ve had him imprisoned for three weeks, and no assets have turned up; no income sources have appeared.


The judgment I will enter today affords you the right and power to continue to search for income sources and assets. 


If you find them, this court will enforce its order consistent with the Constitution, our statutes and case law. Otherwise, I am constrained to release your husband. I’m authorized to hold someone long enough to determine if they have the ability to pay and to offer coercive only incentives in the form of incarceration. Most people would rather pay some money than be locked up. There comes a point where coercive incarceration becomes punitive. When I cannot objectively find facts leading to the conclusion that he has the ability to pay, I am compelled to release the Defendant.”


Before the judge had made it back to Chambers, my poor aunt was already flipping out, screeching again about the missing cash, the red Mercedes convertible, Mafia ties and how my poor uncle paid off the judge…


Remember, he knew everyone in Ocean County…


Instead of teasing each other and driving their daughter to the airport like my rich uncle and my rich aunt, my poor uncle went back to the jail to be processed out and was handed a clear plastic bag containing a dead cell phone, diamond pinky ring, gold chain and wallet containing maxed out credit cards, a crisp hundred dollar bill and three singles. His elderly father would pick him up and they would ride to his new “jail” – a spare room in a 55 and over community.


Across the hallway my rich uncle and rich aunt were celebrating their Ocean County divorce – with a true winning divorce mindset … stay tuned.


Photo by Olga Serjantu on Unsplash